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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 sake, they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested,
For so from such as nearer stood we heard,
As over-tir'd, to let him lean a while,
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 a while 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, & 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,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these immix’d, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'scaped who stood without.
Chor. O dearly bought revenge, yet glorious ! Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd The work, for which thou wast foretold To Israel; and now lyest victorious, Among thy slain, self-kill'd, Not willingly, but tangled in the fold Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd Thee with thy slaughter'd foes, in number more Than all thy life hath slain before.
1 Semichor. While their hearts were jocund &
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine (sublime,
And fat, regorged of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread, who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary :
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy sent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urged them on, with mad desire,
To call in haste for their destroyer :
They, only set on sport and play,
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them
So fond are mortal men,
Fall’n into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite ;
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.
2 Semichor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despised and thought extinguished quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue roused,
From under ashes, into sudden flame,
And, as an evening dragon, came
Assailant on the perched roosts,
And nests, in order ranged,
Of tame villatic fowl; but, as an eagle,
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue given for lost,
Depress’d, and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird,
In the Arabian woods eniboss'd,
That no second knows, nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teem’d,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd ;
And, though her body die, her fame survives,
A secular bird, ages of lives.
Man. Come, come, no time for lamentation now,
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically hath finish'd
A life heroic, on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor,
Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion ;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear’d,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail,
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble
Let us go find the body where it lies,
Soak'd in his enemies' blood, &, from the stream,
With lavers pure and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while,
Gaza is not in plight to say us nay,
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend,
With silent obsequy and funeral train,
Home to his father's house : there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel, ever green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts enrollid,
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And, from his memory, inflame their breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high :
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate, in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt, What the unsearchable dispose Of highest Wisdom brings about, And ever best found in the close. Oft he seems to hide his face, But unexpectedly returns, And to his faithful champion, hath in place Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns, And all that band them to resist His uncontrollable intent; His servants he, with new acquist Of true experience, from this great event, With peace & consolation hath dismiss'd, And, calm of mind, all passion spent.
THE END OF SAMSON AGONISTES.
PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634.
JOHN, EARL OF BRIDGEWATER,