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Samson made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza,
there to labor as in a common work-house, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir’d, there to fit 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 Manoah, who endevors the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransome; lastly, that this feast was proclam’d by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philistian lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while is vifited 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 threatnings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterward more distintly relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
THE PERSON S.
MANO A H, the Father of Samson.
DALILA, his Wife.
HARAPHA of Gath.
Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
Sams. Little onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on; For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: There I am wont to fit, when
chance Relieves me from my talk of servile toil,
5 Daily' in the common prison else injoin'd me, Where I a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw The air imprison'd also, close and damp, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, The breath of Heav'n fresh blowing, pure and sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire. 10 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 15 Retiring from the popular noise, I seek This unfrequented place to find some ease, Ease to the body fome, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm Of hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone, But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
30 As of a person separate to God, Design'd for great exploits; if I must die Betray’d, captiv’d, and both my eyes put out, Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze; To grind in brazen fetters under task
35 With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd Lower than bondslave! Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him 40 Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke: Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt Divine prediction; what if all foretold Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, 45 Whom have I to complain of but myself? Who this high gift of strength committed to me, In what part lodg’d, how easily bereft me, Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
50 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
55 By weakest subtleties, not made to rule, But to fubferve 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; 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 beggery, or decrepit age! Light the prime work of God to me' is extinct, 70 And all her various objects of delight Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas’d, Inferior to the vileft now become Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me, They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos’d 75 To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong, Within doors, or without, still as a fool,