Imatges de pÓgina

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 ?

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

Sams. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour,
Honest and lawful, to deserve my food
Of those who have me in their civil power.
Chor. Where the heart joins not, outward acts defile

Sams. Where outward force constrains, the sentence

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
Present in temples at idolatrous rites
For some important cause, thou needst not doubt.

Chor. 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,

Chor. În 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 public mill our drudge,
And darest 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.

Chor. 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,


in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire ; that spirit, that first rush'd on the
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?

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,
To come and play before them at their feast.
I heard all as I came, the city rings,
And numbers thither flock; Í 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.

Chor. 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.

Chor. 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
May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And number'd down : much rather I shall choose
To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest,
And he in that calamitous prison left.
No, I am fix'd not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forego
And quit : not wanting him, I shall want nothing.

Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons ;
Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all :
Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age,
Thou in old age carest how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eyesight lost.

Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
And view him sitting in the house, ennobled
With all those high exploits by him achieved,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks,
That of a nation arm’d the strength contain'd;
And I persuade me, God hath not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrison'd round about him like a camp
Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose
To use him further yet in some great service ;
Not to sit idle with so great a gift
Useless, and thence ridiculous, about him.
And since his strength with eyesight was not lost
God will restore him eyesight to his strength.

Chor. Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem vain


Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
Conceived, agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate.

Man. I know your friendly minds, and what noise !
Mercy of heaven, what hideous noise was that?
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.

Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perish'd !
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.

Man. Of ruin, indeed, methought I heard the noise : Oh, it continues, they have slain my son.

Chor. Thy son is rather slaying them, that outcry From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.

Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be ;
What shall we do, stay here, or run and see?

Chor. Best keep together here, lest running thither
We unawares run into danger's mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fallen ;
From whom could else a general cry be heard ?
The sufferers then will scarce molest us here,
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if his eyesight, for to Israel's God
Nothing is hard, by miracle restored,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,
And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way?
Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.

Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible
For his people of old ; what hinders now?

Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will ;
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief.
A little stay will bring some notice hither.

Chor. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner ;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.

Mess. Oh, whither shall I run, or which way fly
The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold ?
For dire imagination still pursues me.
But Providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason, though disturb’d, and scarce consulted,
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror,
So in the sad event too much concern'd.

Man. The accident was loud, and 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 fallen, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fallen.

Man. Sad ; but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest The desolation of a hostile city.

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

By Samson.

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

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

Mam. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out.
Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.

Mari. The worst indeed. Oh, all my hopes 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 conceived,
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
Aborti ve as the first-born bloom of spring,
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost !
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How died he? death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell, thou sayest, by whom fell he ?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound ?

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

Self-violence ? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes ?

Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy, and be destroy'd ;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull’d.

Man. Oh, lastly over-strong against thyself !
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough 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 despatch’d,
When all abroad was rumour'd, that this day
Samson should be brought forth, to show 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.

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