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And I persuade me, God had not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrisoned 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

1500
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
Conceived, agreeable to a father's love;
In both which we, as next, participate.

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

1510 Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan, As if the whole inhabitation perished! Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise, – Ruin,-destruction at the utmost point.

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

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

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

1520 Chor. Best keep together here, lest, running thither We unawares run into Danger's mouth. This evil on the Philistines is fallen; From whom could else a general cry be heard ? The sufferers then will scarce molest us here, From other hands we need not much to fear. What if, his eye-sight (for to Israel's God Nothing is hard) by miracle restored, He now be dealing dole among his foes, And over heaps of slaughtered walk his way!

1530 Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.

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

Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will;

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Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief.
A little stay will bring some notice hither.

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

1540

MESSENGER.

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,
Or reason, though disturbed, 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 concerned.

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.

Mes. It would burst forth, but I recover breath
And sense distract, to know well what I utter.

Man. Tell us the sum; the circumstance defer.

Mes. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallen, All in a moment overwhelmed and fallen.

Man. Sad; but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest 1560 The desolation of a hostile city.

Mes. Feed on that first; there may in grief be surfeit.
Man. Relate by whom.
Mes.

By Samson.
Man.

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

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

Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out!
Mes. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead. 1570
Man. The worst indeed! O 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 conceived
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
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 died he; death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he?

1580 What glorious hand gaye Samson his death's wound?

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

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

evitable cause,
At once both to destroy and be destroyed;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads, and on his own, he pulled.
Man. O lastly over strong against thyself !

1590
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.

Mes. Occasions drew me early to the city,
And as the gates I entered with sun-rise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaimed
Through each high-street: little I had despatched,
When all abroad was rumoured that this day

1600
Samson should be brought forth to show the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrowed at his captive state, but 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 sort, might sit in order to behold;

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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 filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,
When to their sports they turned. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
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, cataphracts and spears.
At sight of him, the people with a shout

1620
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 assayed,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still performed
All with incredible, stupendous 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-tired 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 Felt in his arms, with head a while inclined, And eyes fast fixed he stood, as one who prayed, Or some great matter in his mind revolved : At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud :“ Hitherto, Lords, what your commands imposed 1640

I have performed, as reason was, obeying, “ Not without wonder or delight beheld : “Now, of my own aocord, such other trial 'I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater ; As with amaze shall strike all who behold.” This uttered, straining all his nerves, he bowed : As, with the force of winds and waters pent, When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars

:

1650

With horrible convulsion to and fro
He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson with these immixed, inevitably
Pulled down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scaped who stood without.

Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying thou hast fulfilled
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now liest victorious
Among thy slain, self-killed, -
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoined
Thee with thy slaughtered foes in number more
Than all thy life hath slain before.

1660

1670

First SEMICHORUS.
While their hearts were jocund and sublime,
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
Anıl fat regorged of bulls and goats,
Chanting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary;
Among them he a spirit of frenzy sent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urged them on with mad desire,
To call in haste for their destroyer;
They, only set on sport and play,
Unweetingly importuned
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
Fallen into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.

1680

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