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Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila,
That specious monster, my accomplish'd snare.
I thought it lawful from my former act,
And the same end; still watching to oppress
Israel's oppressors : of what now I suffer,
She was not the prime cause, but I myself ;
Who, vanquish'd with a peal of words, O weak-
Gave up my fort of silence to a woman. [ness !
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy country's enemy,
Thou never wast amiss, I bear thee witness :
Yet Israel still serves, with all his sons.
Sams. That fault I take not on me, but transfer
On Israel's governors, and heads of tribes,
Who, seeing those great acts, which God had done
Singly by me, against their conquerors,
Acknowledged not, or not at all consider'd,
Deliverance offer'd: I, on the other side,
Used no ambition to commend my deeds; [doer •
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the
But they persisted deaf, and would not seem
To count them things worth notice, till at length
Their lords, the Philistines, with gather'd powers,
Enter'd Judea, seeking me, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retired;
Not flying, but fore-casting in what place
To set upon them, what advantaged best.
Meanwhile the men of Judah, to prevent
The harass of their land, beset me round:
I willingly, on some conditions, came
Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcised, a welcome prey,
Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threads,
Touch'd with the flame: on their whole host I flew,
Unarm’d, and, with a trivial weapon, fell’d
Their choicest youth; they only lived who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe,
They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath,
And lorded over them, whom they now serve :
But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease, than strenuous liberty;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect,
Whom God hath, of his special favour, rais'd
As their deliverer; if he aught begin,
How frequent to desert him, and, at last,
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?
Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
How Succoth, and the fort of Penuel,
Their great deliverer contemn’d,
The matchless Gideon, in pursuit
Of Midian and her vanquish'd kings :
And how ingrateful Ephraim
Had dealt with Jephtha, who, by argument,
Not worse than by his shield and spear,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quell’d their pride,
In that sore battle, when so many died
Without reprieve, adjudg’d to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
Sams. Of such examples add me to the roll;
Me easily, indeed, mine may neglect,
But God's proposed deliverance not so.
Chor. Just are the ways of God,
And justifiable to men;
Unless there be who think not God at all :
If any be, they walk obscure;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself.
Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just,
As to his own edicts found contradicting,
Then give the reins to wandering thought,
Regardless of his glory's diminution;
Till, by their own perplexities involved,
They ravel more, still less resolved,
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine the Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself ;
And hath full right to exempt
Whom so it pleases him by choice,
From national obstriction, without taint
Of sin, or legal debt;
For with his own laws he can best dispense.
He would not else, who never wanted means,
Nor, in respect of the enemy, just cause,
To set his people free,
Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
Against his vow of strictest purity,
To seek in marriage that fallacious bride,
Down, reason, then, at least vain reasonings
Though reason here aver
That moral verdict quits her of unclean •
Unchaste was subsequent; her stain, not his.
But see, here comes thy reverend sire,
With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoah : advise
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
Sams. Ah me, another inward grief awaked,
With mention of that name, renews the assault.
Enter MANOAH. Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend, My son, now captive, hither hath inform’d Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age, Came lagging after; say, if he be here.
Chor. As signal now, in low dejected state,
As erst in highest, behold him where he lies.
Man. O miserable change! is this the man,
That invincible Samson, far renown'd,
The dread of Israel's foes, who, with a strength
Equivalent to angels, walk'd their streets,
None offering fight; who, single combatant,
Duell’d their armies, rank'd in proud array,
Himself an army;
now unequal match
To save himself against a coward, arm'd
At one spear's length. O ever-failing trust
In mortal strength! and oh, what not in man
Deceivable and vain ? nay, what thing good,
Pray'd for, but often proves our woe, our bane?
I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach; I gain'd a son,
And such a son as all men hail'd me happy;-
Who would be now a father in my stead?
O wherefore did God grant me my request,
And, as a blessing, with such pomp adorn'd?
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest prayers, then given with solemn hand,
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ?
For this did the angel twice descend? for this
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select and sacred, glorious for a while,
The miracle of men; then in an hour
Ensnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
Thy foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind,
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves ?
Alas, methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o'erwhelm, and, as a thrall,
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.
Sams. Appoint not heavenly disposition, Father;
Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me,
But justly; I myself have brought them on,
Sole author I, sole cause : if aught seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who have profaned
The mystery of God, given me under pledge
Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.
This well I knew, nor was at all surpris'd,
But warn'd by oft experience : did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me, in her highth
Of nuptial love profess’d, carrying it straight
To them who had corrupted her, my spies,
And rivals? In this other, was there found
More faith? who also, in her prime of love,
Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,
Though offer'd only, by the sent conceived
Her spurious first-born; treason against me!
Thrice she assay'd, with flattering prayers and sighs,
And amorous reproaches, to win from me
My capital secret, in what part my strength
Lay stored, in what part summ'd, that she might know;
Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly, and with what impudence
She purposed to betray me; and, which was worse
Than undissembled hate, with what contempt
She sought to make me traitor to myself :
Yet the fourth time, when mustering all her wiles,
With blandish'd parlies, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceased not, day nor night,
To storm me, over-watched, and wearied out,
At times when men seek most repose and rest
I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart;
Who, with a grain of manhood well resolved,
Might easily have shook off all her snares :
But foul effeminacy held me yoked,
Her bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To honour and religion ! servile mind,
Rewarded well with servile punishment !
The base degree to which I now am fallen,
These rags, this grinding is not yet so base
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominous, infamous,
True slavery, and that blindness, worse than this,
That saw not how degenerately I served.
Man. I cannot praise thy marriage-choices, son,
Rather approved them not; but thou didst plead
Divine impulsion prompting, how thou might'st
Find some occasion to infest our foes.
I state not that; this I am sure, our foes
Found soon occasion, thereby, to make thee
Their captive, and their triumph; thou the sooner
Temptation found’st, or over-potent charms,
To violate the sacred trust of silence,
Deposited within thee; which to have kept
Tacit, was in thy power : true; and thou bear'st
Enough, and more, the burden of that fault;
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying,
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains ;
This day the Philistines a popular feast
Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim
Great pomp, and sacrifice, and praises loud,
To Dagon, as their god, who hath deliver'd
Thee, Samson, bound and blind, into their hands,
Them out of thine, who slew'st them many
slain. So Dagon shall be magnified, and God, Besides whom is no God, compared with idols, Disglorified, blasphemed, and had in scorn, By the idolatrous rout, amidst their wine : Which, to have come to pass by means of thee, Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, Of all reproach the most, with shame, that ever Could have befall'n thee, and thy father's house.
Sams. Father, I do acknowledge and confess, That I this honour, I this pomp
have brought To Dagon, and advanced his praises high, Among the heathen round; to God have brought Dishonour, obloquy, and oped the mouths Of idolists, and atheists; have brought scandal To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt In feeble hearts, propense enough before To waver, or fall off and join with idols ; Which is my chief affliction, shame, and sorrow, The anguish of my soul, that suffers not Mine eye to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest. This only hope relieves me, that the strife With me hath end; all the contest is now