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Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common workhouse, on a feștival day, in a general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit awhile and bemoan his condition; where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which makes the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old father Manoah, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his li berty by ransom: lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistine lords for Samson's redemption; who, in the meanwhile, is visited by other persons; and lastly by a public officer to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their presence. He at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length, persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatenings to fetch him. The Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's deliverance; in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste, con-fusedly at first, and afterward more distinctly, relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
The Scene, before the Prison in Gaza..
Samson. Attendant leading him.
A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand!
Unwholesome draught but here I feel amends, The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid, luta ak
As in a fiery column charioting
His godlike presence, and from some great act
[strength, O gloriou
Design'd for great exploits; if I must die,
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
Would ask a life to wail; but chief of all,
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eas d
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me:
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O first-created beam, and thou great Word,
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 this sight
confin'd, So obvious and so easy to be quench'd? And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus'd, That she might look at will through every pore Then had I not been thus exil'd from light, As in the land of darkness, yet in light, To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but O, yet more miserable! Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave Buried, yet not exempt,
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs: