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SAMSON AGONISTES

by John Milton

Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call'd Tragedy -

TRAGEDYas it was antiently compos'dhath been ever held the gravestmoralestand most profitable of all other Poems: therefore said by Aristotle tobe of power by raising pity and fearor terrorto purge the mind of those andsuch like passionsthat is to temper and reduce them to just with a kind ofdelightstirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor isNature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion: for so in Physicthings of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholysowr againstsowrsalt to remove salt humours. Hence Philosophers and other gravest Writersas CiceroPlutarch and othersfrequently cite out of Tragic Poetsboth toadorn and illustrate thir discourse. The Apostle Paul himself thought it notunworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the Text of Holy ScriptureI Cor.15.33. and Paraeus commenting on the Revelationdivides the whole Book as aTragedyinto Acts distinguisht each by a Chorus of Heavenly Harpings and Songbetween. Heretofore Men in highest dignity have labour'd not a little to bethought able to compose a Tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the elder was noless ambitiousthen before of his attaining to the Tyranny. Augustus Cesar alsohad begun his Ajaxbut unable to please his own judgment with what he had begunleft it unfinisht. Seneca the Philosopher is by some thought the Author of thoseTragedies (at lest the best of them) that go under that name. Gregory Nazianzena Father of the Churchthought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person towrite a Tragedywhich he entitl'dChrist suffering. This is mention'd tovindicate Tragedy from the small esteemor rather infamywhich in the accountof many it undergoes at this day with other common Interludes; hap'ning throughthe Poets error of intermixing Comic stuff with Tragic sadness and gravity; orintroducing trivial and vulgar personswhich by all judicious hath bin countedabsurd; and brought in without discretioncorruptly to gratifie the people. Andthough antient Tragedy use no Prologueyet using sometimesin case of selfdefenceor explanationthat which Martial calls an Epistle; in behalf of thisTragedy coming forth after the antient mannermuch different from what among uspasses for bestthus much before-hand may be Epistl'd; that Chorus is hereintroduc'd after the Greek mannernot antient only but modernand still in useamong the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this Poemwith good reasonthe Antients and Italians are rather follow'das of much more authority andfame. The measure of Verse us'd in the Chorus is of all sortscall'd by theGreeks Monostrophicor rather Apolelymenonwithout regard had to StropheAntistrophe or Epodwhich were a kind of Stanza's fram'd only for the Musicthen us'd with the Chorus that sung; not essential to the Poemand thereforenot material; or being divided into Stanza's or Pausesthey may be call'dAllaeostropha. Division into Act and Scene referring chiefly to the Stage (towhich this work never was intended) is here omitted.

It suffices if the whole Drama be found not produc't beyond the fift Actofthe style and uniformitieand that commonly call'd the Plotwhether intricateor explicitwhich is nothing indeed but such oeconomyor disposition of thefable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they only will bestjudge who are not unacquainted with AEschulusSophoclesand Euripidesthethree Tragic Poets unequall'd yet by anyand the best rule to all who endeavourto write Tragedy. The circumscription of time wherein the whole Drama begins andendsis according to antient ruleand best examplewithin the space of 24hours.

The Argument -

Samson made CaptiveBlindand now in the Prison at Gazathere to labour asin a common work-houseon a Festival dayin the general cessation from labourcomes forth into the open Airto a place nighsomewhat retir'd there to sit awhile and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited bycertain friends and equals of his tribewhich make the Choruswho seek tocomfort him what they can; then by his old Father Manoawho endeavours the likeand withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastlythatthis Feast was proclaim'd by the Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thirdeliverance from the hands of Samsonwhich yet more troubles him. Manoa thendeparts to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for Samson'sredemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by apublick Officer to require his coming to the Feast before the Lords and Peopleto play or shew his strength in thir presence; he at first refusesdismissingthe publick Officer with absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded inwardlythat this was from Godhe yields to go along with himwho came now the secondtime great threatnings to fetch him; the Chorus yet remaining on the placeManoa returns full of joyful hopeto procure e're long his Sons deliverance: inthe midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; andafterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophewhat Samson had done to thePhilistinsand by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.

The Persons -

Samson.

Harapha of Gath.

Manoa the Father of Samson.

Publick Officer. Messenger.

Dalila his Wife.

Chorus of Danites. -

The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.

SAMSON AGONISTES -

Sams. A little onward lend thy guiding hand

To these dark stepsa little further on;

For yonder bank hath choice of Sun or shade

There I am wont to sitwhen any chance

Relieves me from my task of servile toyl

Daily in the common Prison else enjoyn'd me

Where I a Prisoner chain'dscarce freely draw

The air imprison'd alsoclose and damp

Unwholsom draught: but here I feel amends

The breath of Heav'n fresh-blowingpure and sweet

With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.

This day a solemn Feast the people hold

To Dagon thir Sea-Idoland forbid

Laborious worksunwillingly this rest

Thir Superstition yields me; hence with leave

Retiring from the popular noiseI seek

This unfrequented place to find some ease

Ease to the body somenone to the mind

From restless thoughtsthat like a deadly swarm

Of Hornets arm'dno sooner found alone

But rush upon me throngingand present

Times pastwhat once I wasand what am now.

O wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold

Twice by an Angelwho at last in sight

Of both my Parents all in flames ascended

From off the Altarwhere an Off'ring burn'd

As in a fiery column charioting

His Godlike presenceand from some great act

Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?

Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd

As of a person separate to God

Design'd for great exploits; if I must dye

Betray'dCaptiv'dand both my Eyes put out

Made of my Enemies the scorn and gaze;

To grind in Brazen Fetters under task

With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength

Put to the labour of a Beastdebas't

Lower then bondslave! Promise was that I

Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;

Ask for this great Deliverer nowand find him

Eyeless in Gaza at the Mill with slaves

Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke;

Yet staylet me not rashly call in doubt

Divine Prediction; what if all foretold

Had been fulfilld but through mine own default

Whom have I to complain of but my self?

Who this high gift of strength committed to me

In what part lodg'dhow easily bereft me

Under the Seal of silence could not keep

But weakly to a woman must reveal it

O'recome with importunity and tears.

O impotence of mindin body strong!

But what is strength without a double share

Of wisdomvastunwieldyburdensom

Proudly secureyet liable to fall

By weakest suttletiesnot made to rule

But to subserve where wisdom bears command.

Godwhen he gave me strengthto shew withal

How slight the gift washung it in my Hair.

But peaceI must not quarrel with the will

Of highest dispensationwhich herein

Happ'ly had ends above my reach to know:

Suffices that to me strength is my bane

And proves the sourse of all my miseries;

So manyand so hugethat each apart

Would ask a life to wailbut of all

O loss of sightof thee I most complain!

Blind among enemiesO worse then chains

Dungeonor beggeryor decrepit age!

Light the prime work of God to me is extinct

And all her various objects of delight

Annull'dwhich might in part my grief have eas'd

Inferiour to the vilest now become

Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me

They creepyet seeI dark in light expos'd

To daily fraudcontemptabuse and wrong

Within doorsor withoutstill as a fool

In power of othersnever in my own;

Scarce half I seem to livedead more then half.

O darkdarkdarkdarkdarkamid the blaze of noon

Irrecoverably darktotal Eclipse

Without all hope of day!

O first created Beamand thou great Word

Let there be lightand light was over all;

Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree?

The Sun to me is dark

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 itselfif it be true

That light is in the Soul

She all in every part; why was the sight

To such a tender ball as th' eye confin'd?

So obvious and so easie to be quench't

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 deada living death

And buried; but O yet more miserable!

My selfmy Sepulchera moving Grave

Buriedyet not exempt

By priviledge of death and burial

From worst of other evilspains and wrongs

But made hereby obnoxious more

To all the miseries of life

Life in captivity

Among inhuman foes.

But who are these? for with joint pace I hear

The tread of many feet stearing this way;

Perhaps my enemies who come to stare

At my afflictionand perhaps to insult

Thir daily practice to afflict me more.

Chor. Thisthis is he; softly a while

Let us not break in upon him;

O change beyond reportthoughtor belief!

See how he lies at randomcarelessly diffus'd

With languish't head unpropt

As one past hopeabandon'd

And by himself given over;

In slavish habitill-fitted weeds

O're worn and soild;

Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be hee

That Heroicthat Renown'd

Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd

No strength of manor fiercest wild beast could withstand;

Who tore the Lionas the Lion tears the Kid

Ran on embattelld Armies clad in Iron

And weaponless himself

Made Arms ridiculoususeless the forgery

Of brazen shield and spearthe hammer'd Cuirass

Chaly bean temper'd steeland frock of mail

Adamantean Proof;

But safest he who stood aloof

When insupportably his foot advanc't

In scorn of thir proud arms and warlike tools

Spurn'd them to death by Troops. The bold Ascalonite

Fled from his Lion rampold Warriors turnd

Their plated backs under his heel;

Or grovling soiled the crested helmets in the dust.

Then with what trivial weapon came to hand

The jaw of a dead Asshis sword of bone

A thousand fore-skins fellthe flower of Palestin

In Ramath-lechi famous to this day:

Then by main force pull'd upand on his shoulders bore

The Gates of AzzaPostand massie Bar

Up to the Hill by Hebronseat of Giants old

No journey of a Sabbath dayand loaded so;

Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heav'n.

Which shall I first bewail

Thy Bondage or lost Sight

Prison within Prison

Inseparably dark?

Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!

The Dungeon of thy self; thy Soul

(Which Men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)

Imprison'd now indeed

In real darkness of the body dwells

Shut up from outward light

To incorporate with gloomy night;

For inward light alas

Puts forth no visual beam.

O mirror of our fickle state

Since man on earth unparallel'd!

The rarer thy example stands

By how much from the top of wondrous glory

Strongest of mortal men

To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fall'n.

For him I reckon not in high estate

Whom long descent of birth

Or the sphear of fortune raises;

But thee whose strengthwhile vertue was her mate

Might have subdu'd the Earth

Universally crown'd with highest praises.

Sam. I hear the sound of wordsthir sense the air

Dissolves unjointed e're it reach my ear.

Chor. Hee speakslet us draw nigh. Matchless in might

The glory late of Israelnow the grief;

We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown

From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful Vale

To visit or bewail theeor if better

Counsel or Consolation we may bring

Salve to thy Soresapt words have power to swage

The tumors of a troubl'd mind

And are as Balm to fester'd wounds.

Sam. Your comingFriendsrevives mefor I learn

Now of my own experiencenot by talk

How counterfeit a coin they are who friends

Bear in their Superscription (of the most

I would be understood) in prosperous days

They swarmbut in adverse withdraw their head

Not to be foundthough sought. Yee seeO friends

How many evils have enclos'd me round;

Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me

Blindnessfor had I sightconfus'd with shame

How could I once look upor heave the head

Who like a foolish Pilot have shipwrack't

My Vessel trusted to me from above

Gloriously rigg'd; and for a worda tear

Foolhave divulg'd the secret gift of God

To a deceitful Woman: tell me Friends

Am I not sung and proverbd for a Fool

In every streetdo they not sayhow well

Are come upon him his deserts? yet why?

Immeasurable strength they might behold

In meof wisdom nothing more then mean;

This with the other shouldat leasthave paird

These two proportiond ill drove me transverse.

Chor. Tax not divine disposalwisest Men

Have err'dand by bad Women been deceiv'd;

And shall againpretend they ne're so wise.

Deject not then so overmuch thy self

Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides;

Yet truth to sayI oft have heard men wonder

Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather

Then of thine own Tribe faireror as fair

At least of thy own Nationand as noble.

Sam. The first I saw at Timnaand she pleas'd

Meenot my Parentsthat I sought to wed

The daughter of an Infidel: they knew not

That what I motion'd was of God; I knew

From intimate impulseand therefore urg'd

The Marriage on; that by occasion hence

I might begin Israel's Deliverance

The work to which I was divinely call'd;

She proving falsethe next I took to Wife

(O that I never had! fond wish too-late)

Was in the Vale of SorecDalila

That specious Monstermy accomplisht snare.

I thought it lawful from my former act

And the same end; still watching to oppress

Israel's oppressours: of what now I suffer

She was not the prime causebut I my self

Who vanquisht with a peal of words (O weakness!)

Gave up my fort of silence to a Woman.

Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke

The Philistinethy Countries Enemy

Thou never wast remissI bear thee witness:

Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons.

Sam. That fault I take not on mebut transfer

On Israel's Governoursand Heads of Tribes

Who seeing had great acts which God had done

Singly by me against their Conquerours

Acknowledg'd notor not at all consider'd

Deliverance offerd: I on th' other side

Us'd no ambition to commend my deeds

The deeds themselvesthough mutespoke loud the dooer;

But they persisted deafand would not seem

To count them things worth noticetill at length

Thir Lords the Philistines with gather'd powers

Enterd Judea seeking meewho then

Safe to the rock of Etham was retir'd

Not flyingbut fore-casting in what place

To set upon themwhat advantag'd best;

Mean while the men of Judah to prevent

The harrass of thir Landbeset me round;

I willingly on some conditions came

Into thir handsand they as gladly yeild me

To the uncircumcis'd a welcom prey

Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threds

Toucht with the flame: on thir whole Host I flew

Unarm'dand with a trivial weapon fell'd

Thir choicest youth; they only liv'd who fled.

Had Judah that day join'dor one whole Tribe

They had by this possess'd the Towers of Gath

And lorded over them whom now they serve;

But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt

And by thir vices brought to servitude

Then to love Bondage more then Liberty

Bondage with case then strenuous liberty;

And to despiseor envyor suspect

Whom God hath of his special favour rais'd

As thir Deliverer; if he aught begin

How frequent to desert himand at last

To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?

Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring

How Succoth and the Fort of Penuel

Thir great Deliverer contemn'd

The matchless Gideon in pursuit

Of Madian and her vanquisht Kings:

And how ingrateful Ephraim

Had dealt with Jephthawho by argument

Not worse then by his shield and spear

Defended Israel from the Ammonite

Had not his prowess quell'd thir pride

In that sore battel when so many dy'd

Without Reprieve adjudg'd to death

For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.

Sam. Of such examples adde mee to the roul

Mee easily indeed mine may neglect

But Gods propos'd deliverance not so.

Chor. Just are the ways of God

And justifiable to Men;

Unless there be who think not God at all

If any bethey walk obscure;

For of such Doctrine never was there School

But the heart of the Fool

And no man therein Doctor but himself.

Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just

As to his own edictsfound contradicting

Then give the rains to wandring thought

Regardless of his glories diminution;

Till by thir own perplexities involv'd

They ravel morestill less resolv'd

But never find self-satisfying solution.

As if they would confine th' interminable

And tie him to his own prescript

Who made our Laws to bind usnot himself

And hath full right to exempt

Whom so it pleases him by choice

From National obstrictionwithout taint

Of sinor legal debt;

For with his own Laws he can best dispence.

He would not else who never wanted means

Nor in respect of the enemy just cause

To set his people free

Have prompted this Heroic Nazarite

Against his vow of strictest purity

To seek in marriage that fallacious Bride

Uncleanunchaste.

Down Reason thenat least vain reasonings down

Though Reason here aver

That moral verdit quits her of unclean:

Unchaste was subsequenther stain not his.

But see here comes thy reverend Sire

With careful stepLocks white as doune

Old Manoah: advise

Forthwith how thou oughtst to receive him.

Sam. Ay meanother inward grief awak't

With mention of that name renews th' assault.

Man. Brethren and men of Danfor such ye seem

Though in this uncouth place; if old respect

As I supposetowards your once gloried friend

My Son now Captivehither hath inform'd

Your younger feetwhile mine cast back with age

Came lagging after; say if he be here.

Chor. As signal now in low dejected state

As earst in highestbehold him where he lies.

Man. O miserable change! is this the man

That invincible Samsonfar renown'd

The dread of Israel's foeswho with a strength

Equivalent to Angels walk'd thir streets

None offering fight; who single combatant

Duell'd thir Armies rank't in proud array

Himself an Armynow unequal match

To save himself against a coward arm'd

At one spears length. O ever failing trust

In mortal strength! and oh what not in man

Deceivable and vain! Nay what thing good

Pray'd forbut often proves our woeour bane?

I pray'd for Childrenand thought barrenness

In wedlock a reproach; I gain'd a Son

And such a Son as all Men hail'd me happy;

Who would be now a Father in my stead?

O wherefore did God grant me my request

And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd?

Why are his gifts desirableto tempt

Our earnest Prayersthen giv'n with solemn hand

As Gracesdraw a Scorpions tail behind?

For this did the Angel twice descend? for this

Ordain'd thy nurture holyas of a Plant;

Selectand SacredGlorious for a while

The miracle of men: then in an hour

Ensnar'dassaultedovercomeled bound

Thy Foes derisionCaptivePoorand Blind

Into a Dungeon thrustto work with Slaves?

Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once

To worthiest deedsif he through frailty err

He should not so o'rewhelmand as a thrall

Subject him to so foul indignities

Be it but for honours sake of former deeds.

Sam. Appoint not heavenly dispositionFather

Nothing of all these evils hath befall'n me

But justly; I my self have brought them on

Sole Author Isole cause: if aught seem vile

As vile hath been my follywho have profan'd

The mystery of God givn me under pledge

Of vowand have betray'd it to a woman

A Canaanitemy faithless enemy.

This well I knewnor was at all supris'd

But warn'd by oft experience: did not she

Of Timna first betray meand reveal

The secret wrested from me in her highth

Of Nuptial Love profestcarrying it strait

To them who had corrupted hermy Spies

And Rivals? In this other was there found

More Faith? who also in her prime of love

Spousal embracesvitiated with Gold

Though offer'd onlyby the sent conceiv'd

Her spurious first-born; Treason against me?

Thrice she assay'd with flattering prayers and sighs

And amorous reproaches to win from me

My capital secretin what part my strength

Lay stor'd in what part summ'dthat she might know:

Thrice I deluded herand turn'd to sport

Her importunityeach time perceiving

How openlyand with what impudence

She purpos'd to betray meand (which was worse

Then undissembl'd hate) with what contempt

She sought to make me Traytor to my self;

Yet the fourth timewhen mustring all her wiles

With blandisht parliesfeminine assaults

Tongue-batteriesshe surceas'd not day nor night

To storm me over-watch'tand wearied out.

At times when men seek most repose and rest

I yieldedand unlock'd her all my heart

Who with a grain of manhood well resolv'd

Might easily have shook off all her snares:

But foul effeminacy held me yok't

Her Bond-slave; O indignityO blot

To Honour and Religion! servil mind

Rewarded well with servil punishment!

The base degree to which I now am fall'n

These ragsthis grindingis not yet so base

As was my former servitude. ignoble

Unmanlyignominiousinfamous

True slaveryand that blindness worse then this

That saw not how degeneratly I serv'd.

Man. I cannot praise thy Marriage choisesSon

Rather approv'd them not; but thou didst plead

Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st

Find some occasion to infest our Foes.

I state not that; this I am sure; our Foes

Found soon occasion thereby to make thee

Thir Captiveand thir triumph; thou the sooner

Temptation found'stor over-potent charms

To violate the sacred trust of silence

Deposited within thee; which to have kept

Tacitwas in thy power; true; and thou hear'st

Enoughand more the burden of that fault;

Bitterly hast thou paidand still art paving

That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains

This day the Philistines a popular Feast

Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim

Great Pompand Sacrificeand Praises loud

To Dagonas their God who hath deliver'd

Thee Samson bound and blind into thir hands

Them out of thinewho slew'st them many a slain.

So Dagon shall be magnifi'dand God

Besides whom is no Godcompar'd with Idols

Disglorifi'dblasphem'dand had in scorn

By th' Idolatrous rout amidst thir wine;

Which to have come to pass by means of thee

Samsonof all thy sufferings think the heaviest

Of all reproach the most with shame that ever

Could have befall'n thee and thy Fathers house.

Sam. FatherI do acknowledge and confess

That I this honourI this pomp have brought

To Dagonand advanc'd his praises high

Among the Heathen round; to God have brought

Dishonourobloquieand op't the mouths

Of Idolistsand Atheists; have brought scandal

To Israeldiffidence of Godand doubt

In feeble heartspropense anough before

To waveror fall off and joyn with Idols:

Which is my chief afflictionshame and sorrow

The anguish of my Soulthat suffers not

Mine eie to harbour sleepor thoughts to rest.

This only hope relieves methat the strife

With me hath end; all the contest is now

'Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presum'd

Me overthrownto enter lists with God

His Deity comparing and preferring

Before the God of Abraham. Hebe sure

Will not conniveor lingerthus provok'd

But will arise and his great name assert:

Dagon must stoopand shall e're long receive

Such a discomfitas shall quite despoil him

Of all these boasted Trophies won on me

And with confusion blank his Worshippers.

Man. With cause this hope relieves theeand these words

I as a Prophecy receive: for God

Nothing more certainwill not long defer

To vindicate the glory of his name

Against all competitionnor will long

Endure itdoubtful whether God be Lord

Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done?

Thou must not in the mean while here forgot

Lie in this miserable loathsom plight

Neglected. I already have made way

To some Philistian Lordswith whom to treat

About thy ransom: well they may by this

Have satisfi'd thir utmost of revenge

By pains and slaveriesworse then death inflicted

On theewho now no more canst do them harm.

Sam. Spare that proposalFatherspare the trouble

Of that sollicitation; let me here

As I deserveon my punishment;

And expiatepossiblemy crime

Shameful garrulity. To have reveal'd

Secrets of menthe secrets of a friend

How hainous had the fact beenhow deserving

Contemptand scorn of allto be excluded

All friendshipand avoided as a blab

The mark of fool set on his front?

But I Gods counsel have not kepthis holy secret

Presumptuously have publish'dimpiously

Weakly at leastand shamefully: A sin

That Gentiles in thir Parables condemn

To thir abyss and horrid pains confin'd.

Man. Be penitent and for thy fault contrite

But act not in thy own afflictionSon

Repent the sinbut if the punishment

Thou canst avoidself-preservation bids;

Or th' execution leave to high disposal

And let another handnot thineexact

Thy penal forfeit from thy self; perhaps

God will relentand quit thee all his debt;

Who evermore approves and more accepts

(Best pleas'd with humble and filial submission)

Him who imploring mercy sues for life

Then who self-rigorous chooses death as due;

Which argues over-justand self-displeas'd

For self-offencemore then for God offended.

Reject not then what offerd meanswho knows

But God hath set before usto return the

Home to thy countrey and his sacred house

Where thou mayst bring thy off'ringsto avert

His further irewith praiers and vows renew'd.

Sam. His pardon I implore; but as for life

To what end should I seek it? when in strength

All mortals I excell'dand great in hopes

With youthful courage and magnanimous thoughts

Of birth from Heav'n foretold and high exploits

Full of divine instinctafter some proof

Of acts indeed heroicfar beyond

The Sons of Anacfamous now and blaz'd

Fearless of dangerlike a petty God

I walk'd about admir'd of all and dreaded

On hostile groundnone daring my affront.

Then swoll'n with pride into the snare I fell

Of fair fallacious looksvenereal trains

Softn'd with pleasure and voluptuous life;

At length to lay my head and hallow'd pledge

Of all my strength in the lascivious lap

Of a deceitful Concubine who shore me

Like a tame Weatherall my precious fleece

Then turn'd me out ridiculousdespoil'd

Shav'nand disarm'd among my enemies.

Chor. Desire of wine and all delicious drinks

Which many a famous Warriour overturns

Thou couldst repressnor did the dancing Rubie

Sparklingout-pow'rdthe flavoror the smell

Or taste that cheers the heart of Gods and men

Allure thee from the cool Crystalline stream.

Sam. Where ever fountain or fresh current flow'd

Against the Eastern raytranslucentpure

With touch aetherial of Heav'ns fiery rod

I drankfrom the clear milkie juice allaying

Thirstand refresht; nor envy'd them the grape

Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with fumes.

Chor. O madnessto think use of strongest wines

And strongest drinks our chief support of health

When God with these forbid'n made choice to rear

His mighty Championstrong above compare

Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.

Sam. But what avail'd this temperancenot compleat

Against another object more

What boots it at one gate to make defence

And at another to let in the foe

Effeminatly vanquish't? by which means

Now blinddisheartn'dsham'ddishonour'dquell'd

To what can I be usefulwherein serve

My Nationand the work from Heav'n impos'd

But to sit idle on the houshold hearth

A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze

Or pitied objectthese redundant locks

Robustious to no purpose clustring down

Vain monument of strength; till length of years

And sedentary numness craze my limbs

To a contemptible old age obscure.

Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread

Till vermin or the draff of servil food

Consume meand oft-invocated death

Hast'n the welcom end of all my pains.

Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift

Which was expresly giv'n thee to annoy them?

Better at home lie bed-ridnot only idle

Ingloriousunimploy'dwith age out-worn.

But God who caus'd a fountain at thy prayer

From the dry ground to springthy thirst to allay

After the brunt of battelcan as easie

Cause light again within thy eies to spring

Wherewith to serve him better then thou hast;

And I perswade me so; why else this strength

Miraculous yet remaining in those locks)

His might continues in thee not for naught

Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.

Sam. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend

That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light

Nor th' other light of life continue long

But yield to double darkness nigh at hand:

So much I feel my genial spirits droop

My hopes all flatnature within me seems

In all her functions weary of herself;

My race of glory runand race of shame

And I shall shortly be with them that rest.

Man. Believe not these suggestions which proceed

From anguish of the mind and humours black

That mingle with thy fancy. I however

Must not omit a Fathers timely care

To prosecute the means of thy deliverance

By ransom or how else: mean while be calm

And healing words from these thy friends admit.

Sam. O that torment should not be confin'd

To the bodies wounds and sores

With maladies innumerable

In heartheadbrestand reins;

But must secret passage find

To th' inmost mind

There exercise all his fierce accidents

And on her purest spirits prey

As on entrailsjointsand limbs

With answerable painsbut more intense

Though void of corporal sense.

My griefs not only pain me

As a lingring disease

But finding no redressferment and rage

Nor less then wounds immedicable

Ranckleand festerand gangrene

To black mortification.

Thoughts my Tormenters arm'd with deadly stings

Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts

Exasperateexulcerateand raise

Dire inflammation which no cooling herb

Or medcinal liquor can asswage

Nor breath of Vernal Air from snowy Alp.

Sleep hath forsook and giv'n me o're

To deaths benumming Opium as my only cure.

Thence faintingsswounings of despair

And sense of Heav'ns desertion.

I was his nursling once and choice delight

His destin'd from the womb

Promisd by Heavenly message twice descending.

Under his special eie

Abstemious I grew up and thriv'd amain;

He led me on to mightiest deeds

Above the nerve of mortal arm

Against the uncircumcis'dour enemies.

But now hath cast me off as never known

And to those cruel enemies

Whom I by his appointment had provok't

Left me all helpless with th' irreparable loss

Of sightreserv'd alive to be repeated

The subject of thir crueltyor scorn.

Nor am I in the list of them that hope;

Hopeless are all my evilsall remediless;

This one prayer yet remainsmight I be heard

No long petitionspeedy death

The close of all my miseriesand the balm.

Chor. Many are the sayings of the wise

In antient and in modern books enroll'd;

Extolling Patience as the truest fortitude;

And to the bearing well of all calamities

All chances incident to mans frail life

Consolatories writ

With studied argumentand much perswasion sought

Lenient of grief and anxious thought

But with th' afflicted in his pangs thir sound

Little prevailsor rather seems a tune

Harshand of dissonant mood from his complaint

Unless he feel within

Some sourse of consolation from above;

Secret refreshingsthat repair his strength

And fainting spirits uphold.

God of our Fatherswhat is man!

That thou towards him with hand so various

Or might I say contrarious

Temperst thy providence through his short course

Not evenlyas thou rul'st

The Angelic orders and inferiour creatures mute

Irrational and brute.

Nor do I name of men the common rout

That wandring loose about

Grow up and perishas the summer flie

Heads without name no more rememberd

But such as thou hast solemnly elected

With gifts and graces eminently adorn'd

To some great workthy glory

And peoples safetywhich in part they effect:

Yet toward these thus dignifi'dthou oft

Amidst thir highth of noon

Changest thy countenanceand thy hand with no regard

Of highest favours past

From thee on themor them to thee of service.

Nor only dost degrade themor remit

To life obscur'dwhich were a fair dismission

But throw'st them lower then thou didst exalt them high

Unseemly falls in human eie

Too grievous for the trespass or omission

Oft leav'st them to the hostile sword

Of Heathen and prophanethir carkasses

To dogs and fowls a preyor else captiv'd:

Or to the unjust tribunalsunder change of times

And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.

If these they scapeperhaps in poverty

With sickness and disease thou bow'st them down

Painful diseases and deform'd

In crude old age;

Though not disordinateyet causless suffring

The punishment of dissolute daysin fine

just or unjustalike seem miserable

For oft alikeboth come to evil end.

So deal not with this once thy glorious Champion

The Image of thy strengthand mighty minister.

What do I beg? how hast thou dealt already?

Behold him in this state calamitousand turn

His laboursfor thou canstto peaceful end.

But who is thiswhat thing of Sea or Land?

Femal of sex it seems

That so bedecktornateand gay

Comes this. way sailing

Like a stately Ship

Of Tarsusbound for th' Isles

Of Javan or Gadier

With all her bravery onand tackle trim

Sails fill'dand streamers waving

Courted by all the winds that hold them play

An Amber sent of odorous perfume

Her harbingera damsel train behind;

Some rich Philistian Matron she may seem

And now at nearer viewno other certain

Than Dalila thy wife.

Sam. My Wifemy Traytresslet her not come near me.

Cho. Yet on she movesnow stands & eies thee fixt

About t' have spokebut nowwith head declin'd

Like a fair flower surcharg'd with dewshe weeps

And words addrest seem into tears dissolv'd

Wetting the borders of her silk'n veil:

But now again she makes address to speak.

Dal. With doubtful feet and wavering resolution

I camestill dreading thy displeasureSamson

Which to have meritedwithout excuse

I cannot but acknowledge; yet if tears

May expiate (though the fact more evil drew

In the perverse event then I foresaw)

My penance hath not slack'n'dthough my pardon

No way assur'd. But conjugal affection

Prevailing over fearand timerous doubt

Hath led me on desirous to behold

Once more thy faceand know of thy estate.

If aught in my ability may serve

To light'n what thou suffer'stand appease

Thy mind with what amends is in my power

Though lateyet in some part to recompense

My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.

Sam. Outout Hyaena; these are thy wonted arts

And arts of every woman false like thee

To break all faithall vowsdeceivebetray

Then as repentant to submitbeseech

And reconcilement move with feign'd remorse

Confessand promise wonders in her change

Not truly penitentbut chief to try

Her husbandhow far urg'd his patience bears

His vertue or weakness which way to assail:

Then with more cautious and instructed skil

Again transgressesand again submits;

That wisest and best men full oft beguil'd

With goodness principl'd not to reject

The penitentbut ever to forgive

Are drawn to wear out miserable days

Entangl'd with a poysnous bosom snake

If not quick destruction soon cut off

As I by theeto Ages an example.

Dal. Yet hear me Samson; not that I endeavour

To lessen or extenuate my offence

But that on th' other side if it be weigh'd

By it selfwith aggravations not surcharg'd

Or else with just allowance counterpois'd

I mayif possiblethy pardon find

The easier towards meor thy hatred less.

First grantingas I doit was a weakness

In mebut incident to all our sex

Curiosityinquisitiveimportune

Of secretsthen with like infirmity

To publish themboth common female faults:

Was it not weakness also to make known

For importunitythat is for naught

Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety?

To what I did thou shewdst me first the way.

But I to enemies reveal'dand should not.

Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to womans frailty

E're I to theethou to thy self wast cruel.

Let weakness then with weakness come to parl

So near relatedor the same of kind

Thine forgive mine; that men may censure thine

The gentlerif severely thou exact not

More strength from methen in thy self was found.

And what if Lovewhich thou interpret'st hate

The jealousie of Lovepowerful of sway

In human heartsnor less in mine towards thee

Caus'd what I did? I saw thee mutable

Of fancyfeard lest one day thou wouldst leave me

As her at Timnasought by all means therefore

How to endearand hold thee to me firmest:

No better way I saw then by importuning

To learn thy secretsget into my power

Thy key of strength and safety: thou wilt say

Why then reveal'd? I was assur'd by those

Who tempted methat nothing was design'd

Against thee but safe custodyand hold:

That made for meI knew that liberty

Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises

While I at home sate full of cares and fears

Wailing thy absence in my widow'd bed;

Here I should still enjoy thee day and night

Mine and Loves prisonernot the Philistines

Whole to my selfunhazarded abroad

Fearless at home of partners in my love.

These reasons in Loves law have past for good

Though fond and reasonless to some perhaps:

And Love hath oftwell meaningwrought much wo

Yet always pity or pardon hath obtain'd.

Be not unlike all othersnot austere

As thou art stronginflexible as steel.

If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed

In uncompassionate anger do not so.

Sam. How cunningly the sorceress displays

Her own transgressionsto upbraid me mine!

That malice not repentance brought thee hither

By this appears: I gavethou say'stth' example

I led the way; bitter reproachbut true

I to my self was false e're thou to me

Such pardon therefore as I give my folly

Take to thy wicked deed: which when thou seest

Impartialself-severeinexorable

Thou wilt renounce thy seekingand much rather

Confess it feign'dweakness is thy excuse

And I believe itweakness to resist

Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse

What Murthererwhat TraytorParricide

IncestuousSacrilegiousbut may plead it?

All wickedness is weakness: that plea therefore

With God or Man will gain thee no remission.

But Love constrain'd thee; call it furious rage

To satisfie thy lust: Love seeks to have Love;

My love how couldst thou hopewho tookst the way

To raise in me inexpiable hate

Knowingas needs I mustby thee betray'd?

In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame

Or by evasions thy crime uncoverst more.

Dal. Since thou determinst weakness for no plea

In man or womanthough to thy own condemning

Hear what assaults I hadwhat snares besides

What sieges girt me rounde're I consented;

Which might have aw'd the best resolv'd of men

The constantest to have yielded without blame.

It was not goldas to my charge thou lay'st

That wrought with me: thou know'st the Magistrates

And Princes of my countrey came in person

Sollicitedcommandedthreatn'durg'd

Adjur'd by all the bonds of civil Duty

And of Religionpress'd how just it was

How honourablehow glorious to entrap

A common enemywho had destroy'd

Such numbers of our Nation: and the Priest

Was not behindbut ever at my ear

Preaching how meritorious with the gods

It would be to ensnare an irreligious

Dishonourer of Dagon: what had I

To oppose against such powerful arguments?

Only my love of thee held long debate;

And combated in silence all these reasons

With hard contest: at length that grounded maxim

So rife and celebrated in the mouths

Of wisest men; that to the public good

Private respects must yield; with grave authority

Took full possession of me and prevail'd;

Vertueas I thoughttruthduty so enjoyning.

Sam. I thought where all thy circling wiles would end;

In feign'd Religionsmooth hypocrisie.

But had thy lovestill odiously pretended

Binas it oughtsincereit would have taught thee

Far other reasoningsbrought forth other deeds.

I before all the daughters of my Tribe

And of my Nation chose thee from among

My enemieslov'd theeas too well thou knew'st

Too wellunbosom'd all my secrets to thee

Not out of levitybut over-powr'd

By thy requestwho could deny thee nothing;

Yet now am judg'd an enemy. Why then

Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband?

Thenas since thenthy countries foe profest:

Being once a wifefor me thou wast to leave

Parents and countrey; nor was I their subject

Nor under their protection but my own

Thou minenot theirs: if aught against my life

Thy countrey sought of theeit sought unjustly

Against the law of naturelaw of nations

No more thy countreybut an impious crew

Of men conspiring to uphold thir state

By worse than hostile deedsviolating the ends

For which our countrey is a name so dear;

Not therefore to be obey'd. But zeal mov'd thee;

To please thy gods thou didst it; gods unable

To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes

But by ungodly deedsthe contradiction

Of their own deityGods cannot be:

Less therefore to be pleas'dobey'dor fear'd

These false pretexts and varnish'd colours failing

Bare in thy guilt how foul must thou appear?

Dal. In argument with men a woman ever

Goes whatever the her whatever be her cause.

Sam. For want of words no doubtor lack of breath

Witness when I was worried with thy peals.

Dal. I was a fooltoo rashand quite mistaken

In what I thought would have succeeded best.

Let me obtain forgiveness of theeSamson

Afford me place to shew what recompence

Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone

Misguided: only what remains past cure

Bear not too sensiblynor still insist

To afflict thy self in vain: though sight be lost

Life yet hath many solacesenjoy'd

Where other senses want not their delights

At home in leisure and domestic ease

Exempt from many a care and chance to which

Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.

I to the Lords will intercedenot doubting

Thir favourable earthat I may fetch thee

From forth this loathsom prison-houseto abide

With mewhere my redoubl'd love and care

With nursing diligenceto me glad office

May ever tend about thee to old age

With all things grateful chear'dand so suppli'd

That what by me thou hast lost thou least shalt miss.

Sam. Nonoof my condition take no care;

It fits not; thou and I long since are twain;

Nor think me so unwary or accurst

To bring my feet again into the snare

Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains

Though dearly to my costthy ginnsand toyls;

Thy fair enchanted cupand warbling charms

No more on me have powertheir force is null'd

So much of Adders wisdom I have learn't

To fence my ear against thy sorceries.

If in my flower of youth and strengthwhen all men

Lov'dhonour'dfear'd methou alone could hate me

Thy Husbandslight mesell meand forgo me;

How wouldst thou use me nowblindand thereby

Deceiveablein most things as a child

Helplessthence easily contemn'dand scorn'd

And last neglected? How wouldst thou insult

When I must live uxorious to thy will

In perfet thraldomhow again betray me

Bearing my words and doings to the Lords

To gloss uponand censuringfrown or smile?

This Gaol I count the house of Liberty

To thine whose doors my feet shall never enter.

Dal. Let me approach at leastand touch thy hand.

Sam. Not for thy lifelest fierce remembrance wake

My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint.

At distance I forgive theego with that;

Bewail thy falshoodand the pious works

It hath brought forth to make thee memorable

Among illustrious womenfaithful wives:

Cherish thy hast'n'd widowhood with the gold

Of Matrimonial treason: so farwel.

Dal. I see thou art implacablemore deaf

To prayersthen winds and seasyet winds to seas

Are reconcil'd at lengthand Sea to Shore:

Thy angerunappeasablestill rages

Eternal tempest never to be calm'd.

Why do I humble thus my selfand suing

For peacereap nothing but repulse and hate?

Bid go with evil omen and the brand

Of infamy upon my name denounc't?

To mix with thy concernments I desist

Henceforthnor too much disapprove my own.

Fame if not double-fac't is double-mouth' d

And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds

On both his wingsone blackth' other white

Bears greatest names in his wild aerie flight.

My name perhaps among the Circumcis'd

In Danin Judahand the bordering Tribes

To all posterity may stand defam'd

With malediction mention'dand the blot

Of falshood most unconjugal traduc't.

But in my countrey where I most desire

In EcronGazaAsdodand in Gath

I shall be nam'd among the famousest

Of Womensung at solemn festivals

Living and dead recordedwho to save

Her countrey from a fierce destroyerchose

Above the faith of wedlock-bandsmy tomb

With odours visited and annual flowers.

Not less renown'd then in Mount Ephraim

Jaelwho with inhospitable guile

Smote Sisera sleeping through the Temples nail'd.

Nor shall I count it hainous to enjoy

The public marks of honour and reward

Conferr'd upon mefor the piety

Which to my countrey I was judg'd to have shewn.

At this who ever envies or repines

I leave him to his lotand like my own.

Chor. She's gonea manifest Serpent by her sting

Discover'd in the endtill now conceal'd.

Sam. So let her goGod sent her to debase me

And aggravate my folly who committed

To such a viper his most sacred trust

Of secresiemy safetyand my life.

Chor. Yet beautythough injurioushath strange power

After offence returningto regain

Love once possestnor can be easily

Repuls'twithout much inward passion felt

And secret sting of amorous remorse.

Sam. Love-quarrels oft in pleasing concord end

Not wedlock-trechery endangering life.

Chor. It is not vertuewisdomvalourwit

Strengthcomliness of shapeor amplest merit

That womans love can win or long inherit;

But what it ishard is to say

Harder to hit

(Which way soever men refer it)

Much like thy riddleSamsonin one day

Or seventhough one should musing sit;

If any of these or allthe Timnian bride

Had not so soon preferr'd

Thy Paranymphworthless to thee compar'd

Successour in thy bed

Nor both so loosly disally'd

Thir nuptialsnor this last so trecherously

Had shorn the fatal harvest of thy head.

Is it for that such outward ornament

Was lavish't on thir Sexthat inward gifts

Were left for hast unfinish'tjudgment scant

Capacity not rais'd to apprehend

Or value what is best

In choicebut oftest to affect the wrong?

Or was too much of self-love mixt

Of constancy no root infixt

That either they love nothingor not long?

What e're it beto wisest men and best

Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil

Softmodestmeekdemure

Once join'dthe contrary she provesa thorn

Intestinfar within defensive arms

A cleaving mischiefin his way to vertue

Adverse and turbulentor by her charms

Draws him awry enslav'd

With dotageand his sense deprav'd

To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends.

What Pilot so expert but needs must wreck

Embarqu'd with such a Stears-mate at the Helm?

Favour'd of Heav'n who finds

One vertuous rarely found

That in domestic good combines:

Happy that house! his way to peace is smooth:

But vertue which breaks through all opposition

And all temptation can remove

Most shines and most is acceptable above.

Therefore Gods universal Law

Gave to the man despotic power

Over his female in due awe

Nor from that right to part an hour

Smile she or lowre:

So shall he least confusion draw

On his whole lifenot sway'd

By female usurpationnor dismay'd.

But had we best retireI see a storm?

Sam. Fair days have oft contracted wind and rain.

Chor. But this another kind of tempest brings.

Sam. Be less abstrusemy riddling days are past.

Chor. Look now for no inchanting voicenor fear

The bait of honied words; a rougher tongue

Draws hitherwardI know him by his stride

The Giant Harapha of Gathhis look

Haughty as is his pile high-built and proud.

Comes he in peace? what wind hath blown him hither

I less conjecture then when first I saw

The sumptuous Dalila floating this way:

His habit carries peacehis brow defiance.

Sam. Or peace or notalike to me he comes.

Chor. His fraught we soon shall knowhe now arrives.

Har. I come not Samsonto condole thy chance

As these perhapsyet wish it had not been

Though no friendly intent. I am of Gath

Men call me Haraphaof stock renown'd

As Og or Anak and the Emims old

That Kiriathaim heldthou knowst me now

If thou at all art known. Much I have heard

Of thy prodigious might and feats perform'd

Incredible to mein this displeas'd

That I was never present on the place

Of those encounterswhere we might have tri'd

Each others force in camp or listed field:

And now am come to see of whom such noise

Hath walk'd aboutand each limb to survey

If thy appearance answer loud report.

Sam. The way to know were not to see but taste.

Har. Dost thou already single me; I thought

Gives and the Mill had tam'd thee? O that fortune

Had brought me to the field where thou art fam'd

To have wrought such wonders with an Asses Jaw;

I should have forc'd thee soon with other arms

Or left thy carkass where the Ass lay thrown:

So had the glory of Prowess been recover'd

To Palestinewon by a Philistine

From the unforeskinn'd raceof whom thou bear'st

The highest name for valiant Actsthat honour

Certain to have won by mortal duel from thee

I loseprevented by thy eyes put out.

Sam. Boast not of what thou wouldst have donebut do

What then thou would'stthou seest it in thy hand.

Har. To combat with a blind man I disdain

And thou hast need much washing to be toucht.

Sam. Such usage as your honourable Lords

Afford me assassinated and betray'd

Who durst not with thir whole united powers

In fight withstand me single and unarm'd

Nor in the house with chamber Ambushes

Close-banded durst attaque meno not sleeping

Till they had hir'd a woman with their gold

Breaking her Marriage Faith to circumvent me.

Therefore without feign'd shifts let be assign'd

Some narrow place enclos'dwhere sight may give thee

Or rather flightno great advantage on me;

Then put on all thy gorgeous armsthy Helmet

And Brigandine of brassthy broad Habergeon

Vant-brass and Grevesand Gauntletadd thy Spear

A Weavers beamand seven-times-folded shield

I only with an Oak'n staff will meet thee

And raise such out-cries on thy clatter'd Iron

Which long shall not with-hold mee from thy head

That in a little time while breath remains thee

Thou oft shalt wish thy self at Gath to boast

Again in safety what thou wouldst have done

To Samsonbut shalt never see Gath more.

Har. Thou durst not thus disparage glorious arms

Which greatest Heroes have in battel worn

Thir ornament and safetyhad not spells

And black enchantmentssome Magicians Art

Arm'd thee or charm'd thee strongwhich thou from Heaven

Feigndst at thy birth was giv'n thee in thy hair

Where strength can least abidethough all thy hairs

Were bristles rang'd like those that ridge the back

Of chaf't wild Boarsor ruffl'd Porcupines.

Sam. I know no Spellsuse no forbidden Arts;

My trust is in the living God who gave me

At my Nativity this strengthdiffus'd

No less through all my sinewsjoints and bones

Then thinewhile I preserv'd these locks unshorn

The pledge of my unviolated vow.

For proof hereofif Dagon be thy god

Go to his Templeinvocate his aid

With solemnest devotionspread before him

How highly it concerns his glory now

To frustrate and dissolve these Magic spells

Which I to be the power of Israel's God

Avowand challenge Dagon to the test

Offering to combat thee his Champion bold

With th' utmost of his Godhead seconded:

Then thou shalt seeor rather to thy sorrow

Soon feelwhose God is strongestthine or mine.

Har. Presume not on thy Godwhat e're he be

Thee he regards notowns nothath cut off

Quite from his peopleand delivered up

Into thy Enemies handpermitted them

To put out both thine eyesand fetter'd send thee

Into the common Prisonthere to grind

Among the Slaves and Asses thy comrades

As good for nothing elseno better service

With those thy boyst'rous locksno worthy match

For valour to assailnor by the sword

Of noble Warriourso to stain his honour

But by the Barbers razor best subdu'd.

Sam. All these indignitiesfor such they are

From thinethese evils I deserve and more

Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me

Justlyyet despair not of his final pardon

Whose ear is ever open; and his eye

Gracious to re-admit the suppliant;

In confidence whereof I once again

Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight

By combat to decide whose god is God

Thine or whom I with Israel's Sons adore.

Har. Fair honour that thou dost thy Godin trusting

He will accept thee to defend his cause

A Murtherera Revolterand a Robber.

Sam. Tongue-doubtie Gianthow dost thou prove me these?

Har. Is not thy Nation subject to our Lords?

Thir Magistrates confest itwhen they took thee

As a League-breaker and deliver'd bound

Into our hands: for hadst thou not committed

Nortorious murder on those thirty men

At Askalonwho never did thee harm

Then like a Robber stripdst them of thir robes?

The Philistineswhen thou hadst broke the league

Went up with armed powers thee only seeking

To others did no violence nor spoil.

Sam. Among the Daughters of the Philistines

I chose a Wifewhich argu'd me no foe;

And in your City held my Nuptial Feast:

But your ill-meaning Politician Lords

Under pretence of Bridal friends and guests

Appointed to await me thirty spies

Who threatning cruel death constrain'd the bride

To wring from me and tell to them my secret

That solv'd the riddle which I had propos'd.

When I perceiv'd all set on enmity

As on my enemieswhere ever chanc'd

I us'd hostilityand took thir spoil

To pay my underminers in thir coin.

My Nation was subjected to your Lords.

It was the force of Conquest; force with force

Is well ejected when the Conquer'd can.

But I a private personwhom my Countrey

As a league-breaker gave up boundpresum'd

Single Rebellion and did Hostile Acts.

I was no private but a person rais'd

With strength sufficient and command from Heav'n

To free my Countrey; if their servile minds

Me their Deliverer sent would not receive

But to thir Masters gave me up for nought

Th' unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.

I was to do my part from Heav'n assign'd

And had perform'd it if my known offence

Had not disabl'd menot all your force:

These shifts refutedanswer thy appellant

Though by his blindness maim'd for high attempts

Who now defies thee thrice to single fight

As a petty enterprise of small enforce.

Har. With thee a Man condemn'da Slave enrol'd

Due by the Law to capital punishment?

To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.

Sam. Cam'st thou for thisvain boasterto survey me

To descant on my strengthand give thy verdit?

Come nearerpart not hence so slight inform'd;

But take good heed my hand survey not thee.

Har. O Baal-zebub! can my ears unus'd

Hear these dishonoursand not render death?

Sam. No man with-holds theenothing from thy hand

Fear I incurable; bring up thy van

My heels are fetter'dbut my fist is free.

Har. This insolence other kind of answer fits.

Sam. Go baffl'd cowardlest I run upon thee

Though in these chainsbulk without spirit vast

And with one buffet lay thy structure low

Or swing thee in the Airthen dash thee down

To the hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides.

Har. By Astaroth e're long thou shalt lament

These braveries in Irons loaden on thee.

Chor. His Giantship is gone somewhat crestfall'n

Stalking with less unconsci'nable strides

And lower looksbut in a sultrie chafe.

Sam. I dread him notnor all his Giant-brood

Though Fame divulge him Father of five Sons

All of Gigantic sizeGoliah chief.

Chor. He will directly to the LordsI fear

And with malitious counsel stir them up

Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.

Sam. He must allege some causeand offer'd fight

Will not dare mentionlest a question rise

Whether he durst accept the offer or not

And that he durst not plain enough appear'd.

Much more affliction then already felt

They cannot well imposenor I sustain;

If they intend advantage of my labours

The work of many handswhich earns my keeping

With no small profit daily to my owners.

But come what willmy deadlieit foe will prove

My speediest friendby death to rid me hence

The worst that he can giveto me the best.

Yet so it may fall outbecause thir end

Is hatenot help to meit may with mine

Draw thir own ruin who attempt the deed.

Chor. Oh how comely it is and how reviving

To the Spirits of just men long opprest!

When God into the hands of thir deliverer

Puts invincible might

To quell the mighty of the Earthth' oppressour

The brute and boist'rous force of violent men

Hardy and industrious to support

Tyrannic powerbut raging to pursue

The righteous and all such as honour Truth;

He all thir Ammunition

And feats of War defeats

With plain Heroic magnitude of mind

And celestial vigour arm'd

Thir Armories and Magazins contemns

Renders them uselesswhile

With winged expedition

Swift as the lightning glance he executes

His errand on the wickedwho surpris'd

Lose thir defence distracted and amaz'd.

But patience is more oft the exercise

Of Saintsthe trial of thir fortitude

Making them each his own Deliverer

And Victor over all

That tyrannie or fortune can inflict

Either of these is in thy lot

Samsonwith might endu'd

Above the Sons of men; but sight bereav'd

May chance to number thee with those

Whom Patience finally must crown.

This Idols day hath bin to thee no day of rest

Labouring thy mind

More then the day thy hands

And yet perhaps more trouble is behind.

For I descry this way

Some other tendingin his hand

A Scepter or quaint staff he bears

Comes on amainspeed in his look.

By his habit I discern him now

A Public Officerand now at hand.

His message will be short and voluble.

Off. Ebrewsthe Pris'ner Samson here I seek.

Chor. His manacles remark himthere he sits.

Off. Samsonto thee our Lords thus bid me say;

This day to Dagon is a solemn Feast

With SacrificesTriumphPompand Games;

Thy strength they know surpassing human rate

And now some public proof thereof require

To honour this great Feastand great Assembly;

Rise therefore with all speed and come along

Where I will see thee heartn'd and fresh clad

To appear as fits before th' illustrious Lords.

Sam. Thou knowst I am an Ebrewtherefore tell them

Our Law forbids at thir Religious Rites

My presence; for that cause I cannot come.

Off. This answerbe assur'dwill not content them.

Sam. Have they not Sword-playersand ev'ry sort

Of Gymnic ArtistsWrestlersRidersRunners

Juglers and DancersAnticsMummersMimics

But they must pick me out with shackles tir'd

And over-labour'd at thir 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'stI will not come.

Off. Regard thy selfthis will offend them highly.

Sam. My self? my conscience and internal peace.

Can they think me so brokenso debas'd

With corporal servitudethat my mind ever

Will condescend to such absurd commands?

Although thir drudgeto be thir fool or jester

And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief

To shew them featsand play before thir god

The worst of all indignitiesyet on me

Joyn'd with extream contempt? I will not come.

Off. My message was impos'd on me with speed

Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?

Sam. So take it with what speed thy message needs.

Off. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.

Sam. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.

Chor. ConsiderSamson; matters now are strain'd

Up to the highthwhether to hold or break;

He's goneand who knows how he may report

Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?

Expect another message more imperious

More Lordly thund'ring then thou well wilt bear.

Sam. Shall I abuse this Consecrated gift

Of strengthagain returning with my hair

After my great transgressionso requite

Favour renew'dand add a greater sin

By prostituting holy things to Idols;

A Nazarite in place abominable

Vaunting my strength in honour to thir Dagon?

Besideshow vilecontemptibleridiculous

What act more execrably uncleanprophane?

Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the Philistines

Idolatrousuncircumcis'dunclean.

Sam. Not in thir Idol-worshipbut by labour

Honest and lawful to deserve my food

Of those who have me in thir civil power.

Chor. Where the heart joins notoutward acts defile not.

Sam. Where outward force constrainsthe sentence 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 Manand Man prefer

Set God behind: which in his jealousie

Shall neverunrepentedfind forgiveness.

Yet that he may dispense with me or thee

Present in Temples at Idolatrous Rites

For some important causethou needst not doubt.

Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach.

Sam. Be of good courageI begin to feel

Some rouzing motions in me which dispose

To something extraordinary my thoughts.

I with this Messenger will go along

Nothing to dobe surethat may dishonour

Our Lawor 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 actor of my days the last.

Chor. In time thou hast resolv'dthe man returns.

Off. Samsonthis second message from our Lords

To thee I am bid say. Art thou our Slave

Our Captiveat the public 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 theeas thou shalt come of force

Though thou wert firmlier fastn'd then a rock.

Sam. I could be well content to try thir Art

Which to no few of them would prove pernicious.

Yet knowing thir advantages too many

Because they shall not trail me through thir streets

Like a wild BeastI 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 surein nothing to comply

Scandalous or forbidden in our Law.

Off. I praise thy resolutiondoff these links:

By this compliance thou wilt win the Lords

To favourand perhaps to set thee free.

Sam. Brethren farewelyour company along

I will not wishlest it perhaps offend them

To see me girt with Friends; and how the sight

Of me as of a common Enemy

So dreaded oncemay now exasperate them

I know not. Lords are Lordliest in thir wine;

And the well-feasted Priest then soonest fir'd

With zealif aught Religion seem concern'd:

No less the people on thir Holy-days

Impetuousinsolentunquenchable;

Happ'n what mayof me expect to hear

Nothing dishonourableimpureunworthy

Our Godour Lawmy Nationor my self

The last of me or no I cannot warrant.

Chor. Goand the Holy One

Of Israel be thy guide

To what may serve his glory best& spread his name

Great among the Heathen round:

Send thee the Angel of thy Birthto stand

Fast by thy sidewho from thy Fathers field

Rode up in flames after his message told

Of thy conceptionand be now a shield

Of fire; that Spirit that first rusht 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 wond'rous actions hath been seen.

But wherefore comes old Manoa in such hast

With youthful steps? much livelier than e're while

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 thir Feast.

I heard all as I camethe City rings

And numbers thither flockI had no will

Lest I should see him forc't to things unseemly.

But that which moved my coming nowwas chiefly

To give ye part with me what hope I have

With good success to work his liberty.

Chor. That hope would much rejoyce us to partake

With thee; say reverend Sirewe thirst to hear.

Man. I have attempted one by one the Lords

Either at homeor through the high street passing

With supplication prone and Fathers tears

To accept of ransom for my Son thir pris'ner

Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh

Contemptuousproudset on revenge and spite;

That part most reverenc'd Dagon and his Priests

Others more moderate seemingbut thir aim

Private rewardfor which both God and State

They easily would set to salea third

More generous far and civilwho confess'd

They had anough reveng'dhaving reduc't

Thir foe to misery beneath thir fears

The rest was magnanimity to remit

If some convenient ransom were propos'd.

What noise or shout was that? it tore the Skie.

Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold

Thir once great dreadcaptive& blind before them

Or at some proof of strength before them shown.

Man. His ransomif my whole inheritance

May compass itshall willingly be paid

And numberd down: much rather I shall chuse

To live the poorest in my Tribethen richest

And he in that calamitous prison left.

NoI am fixt not to part hence without him.

For his redemption all my Patrimony

If need beI am ready to forgo

And quit: not wanting himI shall want nothing.

Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for thir Sons

Thou for thy Son art bent to lay out all;

Sons wont to nurse thir Parents in old age

Thou in old age car'st how to nurse thy Son

Made older then thy age through eye-sight lost.

Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes

And view him sitting in the houseenobl'd

With all those high exploits by him atchiev'd

And on his shoulders waving down those locks

That of a Nation arm'd the strength contain'd:

And I perswade me God had not permitted

His strength again to grow up with his hair

Garrison'd round about him like a Camp

Of faithful Souldierywere not his purpose

To use him further yet in some great service

Not to sit idle with so great a gift

Uselessand thence ridiculous about him.

And since his strength with eye-sight was not lost

God will restore him eye-sight to his strength.

Chor. Thy hopes are not ill founded nor seem vain

Of his deliveryand thy joy thereon

Conceiv'dagreeable to a Fathers love

In both which weas next participate.

Man. I know your friendly minds and-O what noise!

Mercy of Heav'n 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

Blooddeathand deathful deeds are in that noise

Ruindestruction at the utmost point.

Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise

Oh it continuesthey have slain my Son.

Chor. Thy Son is rather slaying themthat outcry

From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.

Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be;

What shall we dostay here or run and see?

Chor. Best keep together herelest running thither

We unawares run into dangers mouth.

This evil on the Philistines is fall'n

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 eye-sight (for to Israels God

Nothing is hard) by miracle restor'd

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 knowbut doubt to think he will;

Yet Hope would fain subscribeand tempts Belief.

A little stay will bring some notice hither.

Chor. Of good or bad so greatof bad the sooner;

For evil news rides postwhile good news baits.

And to our wish I see one hither speeding

An Ebrewas I guessand of our Tribe.

Mess. O whither shall I runor which way flie

The sight of this so horrid spectacle

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'dand scarse consulted

To have guided me arightI know not how

To thee first reverend Manoaand to these

My Countreymenwhom here I knew remaining

As at some distance from the place of horrour

So in the sad event too much concern'd.

Man. The accident was loud& here before thee

With rueful cryyet what it was we hear not

No Preface needsthou seest we long to know.

Mess. It would burst forthbut I recover breath

And sense distractto know well what I utter.

Man. Tell us the sumthe circumstance defer.

Mess. Gaza yet standsbut all her Sons are fall'n

All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall'n.

Man. Sadbut thou knowst to Israelites not saddest

The desolation of a Hostile City.

Mess. Feed on that firstthere may in grief be surfet.

Man. Relate by whom. Mess. By Samson.

Man. That still lessens

The sorrowand converts it nigh to joy.

Mess. Ah Manoa I refraintoo 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 torturespeak them out.

Mess. Then take the worst in briefSamson is dead.

Man. The worst indeedO 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 Deliverywhich 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 griefsay first

How dy'd he? death to life is crown or shame.

All by him fell thou say'stby whom fell he

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!

A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.

More than anough we know; but while things yet

Are in confusiongive 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

Samson should be brought forth to shew the people

Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;

I sorrow'd at his captive statebut 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 sortmight sit in order to behold

The other side was op'nwhere the throng

On banks and scaffolds under Skie might stand;

I among these aloof obscurely stood.

The Feast and noon grew highand Sacrifice

Had fill'd thir hearts with mirthhigh 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 Timbrelson each side went armed guards

Both horse and foot before him and behind

Archersand SlingersCataphracts and Spears.

At sight of him the people with a shout

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 placeand what was set before him

Which without help of eyemight be assay'd

To heavepulldrawor breakhe still perform'd

All with incrediblestupendious force

None daring to appear Antagonist.

At length for intermission sake they led him

Between the pillars; he his guide requested

(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 armswith head a while enclin'd

And eyes fast fixt he stoodas one who pray'd

Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd.

At last with head erect thus cryed aloud

HithertoLordswhat your commands impos'd

I have perform'das reason wasobeying

Not without wonder or delight beheld.

Now of my own accord such other tryal

I mean to shew you of my strengthyet greater;

As with amaze shall strike all who behold.

This utter'dstraining all his nerves he bow'd

As with the force of winds and waters pent

When Mountains tremblethose two massie Pillars

With horrible convulsion to and fro

He tugg'dhe shooktill down thy came and drew

The whole roof after themwith burst of thunder

Upon the heads of all who sate beneath

LordsLadiesCaptainsCouncellorsor Priests

Thir choice nobility and flowernot only

Of this but each Philistian City round

Met from all parts to solemnize this Feast.

Samson with these immixtinevitably

Pulld down the same destruction on himself;

The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.

Chor. O dearly-bought revengeyet glorious!

Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd

The work for which thou wast foretold

To Israeland now ly'st victorious

Among thy slain self-kill'd

Not willinglybut tangl'd in the fold

Of dire necessitywhose 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 Idolatrydrunk with Wine

And fat regorg'd of Bulls and Goats

Chaunting thir Idoland 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

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 leftor 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

Deprestand overthrownas seem'd

Like that self-begott'n bird

In the Arabian woods embost

That no second knows nor third

And lay e're while a Holocaust

From out her ashie womb now teem'd

Revivesreflourishesthen vigorous most

When most unactive deem'd

And though her body dieher fame survives

A secular bird ages of lives.

Man. Comecomeno time for lamentation now

Nor much more causeSamson hath quit himself

Like Samsonand heroicly hath finish'd

A life Heroicon his Ene'mies

Fully reveng'dhath left them years of mourning

And lamentation to the Sons of Caphtor

Through all Philistian bounds. To Israel

Honour hath leftand freedomlet but them

Find courage to lay hold on this occasion

To himself and Fathers house eternal fame;

And which is best and happiest yetall this

With God not parted from himas was feard

But favouring and assisting to the end.

Nothing is here for tearsnothing to wail

Or knock the breastno weaknessno contempt

Dispraiseor blamenothing 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 bloodand 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 kindredall 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 Monumentand plant it round with shade

Of Laurel ever greenand branching Palm

With all his Trophies hungand Acts enroll'd

In copious Legendor sweet Lyric Song.

Thither shall all the valiant youth resort

And from his memory inflame thir breasts

To matchless valourand adventures high:

The Virgins also shall on feastful days

Visit his Tomb with flowersonly bewailing

His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice

From whence captivity and loss of eyes.

Chor. All is bestthough 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

Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns

And all that band them to resist

His uncontroulable intent

His servants he with new acquist

Of true experience from this great event

With peace and consolation hath dismist

And calm of mind all passion spent. - -

THE END