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 -
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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?
What act more execrably uncleanprophane?
Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the Philistines
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
Happ'n what mayof me expect to hear
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
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
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. - -