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And I persuade me, God had not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrison'd round about him like a camp
of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose
To use him further yet in some great service;
Not to sit idle with so great a gift
Useless, and thence ridiculous about him.
And since his strength with 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 delivery, and thy joy thereon
1505 Conceiv'd. agreeable to a father's love, In both which we, as next, participate. Man. I know your friendly minds and what
noise !Mercy of Hear'n, what bideous noise was that! Horribly loud, unlike the former shout. 1519
Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perish'd !
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise : Oh! it continues, they have slain my son. 1516
Chor. Thy son is rather slaying them; that outery From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be; What shall we do, stay here or run and see? 1520
Chor. Best keep together here, lest, running thither, We unawares run into danger's mouth. This evil on the Philistines is falln; From whom could else a general cry be heard ? The sufferers then will scarce molest us here; 1525 From other hands we need not much to fear. What if, his eye-sight (for to Israel's 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? 1330
Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible For his people of old; what kinders now?
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will; Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief. 1535 A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Char. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.
Mess. O whither shall I run, or which way fly
The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold?
For dire imagination still pursues me.
But providence or instinct of nature seems, 1545
Or reason though disturb'd, and scarce consulted,
To'have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror, 1550
So in the sad event too much concern'd.
Man. The accident was loud, and here before thee With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not; No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath 1555 And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.
Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fall'n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall’n.
Man. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest The desolation of a hostile city.
1561 Mess. Feed on that first; there may in grief be
Man. Relate by whom.
That still lessens The sorrow,
and converts it nigh to joy. Mess. Ab, Manoah, I refrain too suddenly 1565 To utter what will come at last too soon; Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption Hitting thy aged car should pierce too deep.
Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out. Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.
Man. The worst indeed ! O all my hopes defeated
To free him hence! but death, who sets all free, 1572
Hath paid bis ransom now and full diseharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves 1573
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost !
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How dyd he; death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell, thou say'st; by whom fell he? 1580
What glorious band gave Samson his death's wound?
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? er
Mess. By his own hands.
Self-riolence? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself 1585
Among his foes?
At once both to destroy and be destroy'd ;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
l'pon their heads and on his own he pull'd.
Man. O lastly over-strong against thyself! 1500
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things get
Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eye-witness of wbat first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.
Mess. Occasions drew me early to this eity;
And, as the gates I enter'd with sun-rise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Through each high street: little I had dispatchd,
When all abroad was rumour'd that this day 1600
Samson should be brought forth, to show the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrow'd at his captive state. but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre
Half-roand, on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the lords, and each degree
of sort, might sit in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand ; 1610
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,
When to their sports they turn’d. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought, 1615
In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, eataphracts, and spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamouring their God with praise,
Who' had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient, but undaunted, where they led him,
Came to the place; and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye might be assay'd, 1625
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendious force,
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested 1630
(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 massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He, unsuspicious, led him; which when Samson 1635
Felt in his arins, with head a while inelin'd,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last, with head ereet, thus cry'd aloud;
“ Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos'd 1640
I have perform'd, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld:
Now of my own accord such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
As with amaze sball strike all who behold." 1645
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bowd;
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugg’d, he shook, till down they came and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder 1651
Upon the beads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flow'r, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these immix'd, inevitably
Pulld down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.
Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious! 1660 Living or dying thou hast fulfild The work for which thou wast foretold To Israel, and now ly'st victorious Among thy slain self-kill'd, Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
1665 of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd Thee with thy slaughter'd foes, in number more Than all thy life hath slain before. 1 Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and sub.
lime, Drank with idolatry, drunk with wine,
1670 And fat regorg‘d of bulls and goats, Chaunting their idol, and preferring Before our living Dread who dwells In Silo, his bright sanctuary : Among them he a spi'rit of phrenzy sent, 1675 Who hurt their minds, And urg'd them on with mad desire To call
in haste for their destroyer; They, only set on sport and play, Vnweetingly importun'd
1680 Their own destruction to come speedy upon the pas So fond are mortal men, Fall'n into wrath divine, As their own ruin on themselves t' invite,