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SAMSON (Attendant leading him).
A 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 sit, when any chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil, Daily in the common prison else enjoin'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 Heaven fresh blowing, pure & sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.This day à 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 ease; Ease to my body some, 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. O 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 burn'd, As in a fiery column charioting His god-like presence, & from some great act, Or benefit reveal’d, to Abraham's race. Why was my breeding order'd and prescribed, As of a person separate to God, Design'd for great exploits ? if I must die, Betray'd, 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. Oglorious 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 honds, under Philistian 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,
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, unwieldly, 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.
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, 0 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
Annullid, 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 quench’d;
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus’d,
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,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable !
Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt,
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs ;
But made, hereby, obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life
Life, in captivity,
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these ? for, with joint pace, I hear
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Their daily practice, to afflict me more.
Chor. This, this is he, softly awhile,
Let us not break in
upon him ;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See, how he lies at random, carelessly diffused,
With languish'd head unpropp'd,
As one past hope, abandon'd,
And by himself given over;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O’er-worn and soil'd;
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renown'd,
Irresistible Samson? whom, unarm’d, [withstand ;
No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid;
Ran on embattled armies, clad in iron ;
And weaponless himself;
Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery
Of brazen shield & spear, the hammer'd cuirass,
Chalybean temper'd steel, and frock of mail,
But safest he who stood aloof,
When insupportably his foot advanced ;
In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools,
Spurn'd them to death by troops. The bold Ascalo-
Fled from his lion ramp, old warriors turn'd [nite
Their plated backs under his heel; [dust.
Or, grovelling, soil'd their crested helmets in the
Then, with what trivial weapon came to hand,
The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone,
A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestine,
In Ramath-lechi, famous to this day. [bore
Then by main force pull’dup, and on his shoulders
The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,
Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage, or lost sight,
Prison within prison,
Thou art become O worst imprisonment
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,
Which men enjoying sight oft without cause
Imprison'd now indeed, [complain,
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light
To incorporate with gloomy night;
For inward light, alas !
Puts forth no visual beam.
O mirror of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparalleld!
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wonderous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune, thou art fallen.
For him I reckon not in high estate,
Whom long descent of birth,
Or the sphere of fortune raises ;
But thee, whose strength, while virtue was her mate
Might have subdued the earth,
Universally crown'd with highest praises. [air
Sams. I hear the sound of words, their sense the
Dissolves, unjointed, ere it reach my ear.
Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless The glory late of Israel, now the grief; [in might We
come, thy friends & neighbours, not unknown From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale,
To visit or bewail thee, or if better,
Counselor consolation we may bring,
Salve to thy sores ; apt words have power to
The tumours of a troubled mind, ['swage
And are as balm to fester'd wounds.
Sams. Your coming, friends, revives me; for I
Now, of my own experience, not by talk, (learn
How counterfeit a coin they are, who friends
Bear in their superscription; of the most
I would be understood: in prosperous days
They swarm, but in aaverse, withdraw their head;
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends,
How many evils have enclosed me round;
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness ; for had I sight, confused with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwreck'd
My vessel, trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigg'd; and for a word, a tear,
Fool, lave divulged the secret gift of God,
To a deceitful woman? tell me, friends,
Am I not sung, and proverb'd for a fool,
In every street ? do they not say, how well
Are come upon him his deserts ? yet why?
Immeasurable strength they might behold
In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean;
This with the other should, at least, have pair'd;
These two, proportion'd ill, drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal; wisest men Have err’d, and by bad women been deceived ; And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise. Deject not then so overmuch thyself, Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides ; Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder Why thou should'st wed Philistian women, rather Than of thine own tribe; fairer, or as fair, At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sams. The first I saw at Timna, & she pleased Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed The daughter of an infidel : they knew not, That what I motion'd was of God; I knew From intimate impulse, and therefore urged The marriage on ; that, by occasion hence I might begin Israel's deliverance, The work to which I was divinely call’d. She proving false, the next I took to wife, O that I never had ! fond wish too late!