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Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
And view him sitting in his house, ennobled
With all those high exploits by him achieved,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks
That of a nation arm'd the strength contain'd;
And I persuade me, God hath 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.
Cho. 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
Mercy of Heaven! what hideous noise was that?
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
Cho. 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.
Cho. 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?
Cho. 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 slaughter'd walk his way?
Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.
Cho. 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;
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief.
A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Cho. 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, A 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,
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,
Though 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,
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 fallen, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fallen.
Man. Sad! but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest The desolation of a hostile city.
Mess. Feed on that first; there may in grief be surMan. Relate by whom.
and converts it nigh to joy.
Mess. 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.
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,
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?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter, then, or how? explain.
Mess. By his own hands.
Self-violence? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
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 pull❜d.
Man. O, lastly over-strong against thyself!
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.
Mess. Occasions drew me early to this city; And, as the gates I entered with sun-rise, The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd Through each high street: little I had dispatch'd, When all abroad was rumour'd that this day 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 round, 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;
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,
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
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,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendous force;
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length, for intermission's sake, they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard),
As over-tired, to let him lean awhile,
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 awhile inclined,
And eyes fast fix'd, he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolved:
At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud :-
"Hitherto, lords, what your commands imposed
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 shall strike all who behold.'
This utter'd, straining all his nerves, he bow'd:
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
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,