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THE ARGUMENT.

SAMSON, made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common workhouse, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old father, Manoa, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson--which yet more troubles him. Manoa then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian lords for Samson's redemption: who, in the meanwhile, is visited by other persons, and, lastly, by a public officer to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their presence. He at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length, persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatenings to fetch him. The Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoa returns full of joyful hope to procure ere long his son's deliverance; in the midst of which discourse an Ebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterwards more distinctly, relating the catastrophe-what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the Tragedy ends.

THE PERSONS.

MANOA, the father of Samson.

DALILA, his wife.

HARAPHA of Gath.

SAMSON.

Public Officer.
Messenger.

Chorus of Danites.

The Scene, before the Prison in Gaza.

SAMSON AGONISTES.

SAMS. A little onward lend thy guiding hand

I I

To these dark steps, a little further on; For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade. There I am wont to sit, when any chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil, Daily in the common prison else enjoined me, Where I, a prisoner chained, scarce freely draw The air, imprisoned also, close and damp, Unwholesome draught. But here I feel amendsThe breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire. This day a solemn feast the people hold To Dagon, their sea-idol, and forbid Laborious works. Unwillingly this rest Their superstition yields me; hence, with leave Retiring from the popular noise, I seek This unfrequented place, to find some easeEase to the body some, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm Of hornets armed, no sooner found alone But rush upon me thronging, and present Times past, what once I was, and what am now. Oh, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold Twice by an Angel, who at last, in sight Of both my parents, all in flames ascended From off the altar where an offering burned, As in a fiery column charioting

His godlike presence, and from some great act

VOL. III.

H

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Or benefit revealed to Abraham's race?

Why was my breeding ordered and prescribed 30
As of a person separate to God,

Designed for great exploits, if I must die
Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze,

To grind in brazen fetters under task

With this heaven-gifted strength? O glorious strength,

Put to the labour of a beast, debased

Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver!
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke.
Yet stay; let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction. What if all foretold
Had been fulfilled but through mine own default?
Whom have I to complain of but myself,
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodged, how easily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
O'ercome with importunity and tears?
O impotence of mind in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom? Vast, unwieldy, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall

By weakest subtleties; not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.
But peace! I must not quarrel with the will
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Haply had ends above my reach to know.
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the source of all my miseries-

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So many, and so huge, that each apart
Would ask a life to wail. But, chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain !
Blind among enemies! O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age !
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight

Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased.
Inferior to the vilest now become

Of man or worm, the vilest here excel me:
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own-
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse

Without all hope of day!

O first-created beam, and thou great Word,
"Let there be light, and light was over all,"
Why am I thus bereaved 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 itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,

She all in every part, why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined,
So obvious and so easy to be quenched,
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exiled from light,
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,

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