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Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fall’n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall’n. MAN. Sad; but thou know'st to Israelites not
saddest The desolation of a hostile city. Mess. Feed on that first, there may in grief be
Man. Relate by whom.
Mess. By Samson.
Man. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mess. Ah! Manoa, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon ;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.
Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out. Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.
[feated MAN. The worst indeed. O all my hope's deTo free him hence! but death, who sets all free, Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge. What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost ! Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first, How died he ; death to life is crown or shame. .
1562 Feed] Two Gent. of Verona, act iii. sc. 1.
• I have fed upon this woe already,
And now excess of it will make me surfeit.' Todd,
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he ?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound ?
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how ? ex-
Mess. By his own hands.
Man. Self-violence ? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes ?
Mess. Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy and be destroy'd;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull’d.
Man. O lastly over-strong against thyself!
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but, while things yet
. Are in confusion, give us, if thou can'st,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.
Mess. Occasions drew me early to this city, And as the gates I enter'd with sun-rise, The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd Through each high-street. Little I had dispatch'd When all abroad was rumour'd, that this day Samson should be brought forth to show the people Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games; I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded
1581 death's wound] Æn. xii. 322.
• Pressa est insignis gloria facti,
Nec sese Æneæ jactavit vulnere quisquam.'
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre,
Half-round, on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats, where all the lords and each degree
Of sort, might sit in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand ;
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and
When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts, and spears. .
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamouring their God with praise,
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 awhile
With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He unsuspicious led him; which when Samson 1635
Felt in his arms, with head awhile inclin'd,
And eyes fast fixt he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last with head erect thus cried aloud,
Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos’d
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 and 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 immixt, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scap'd 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 liest 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 had slain before.
SEMICHOR. While their hearts were jocund and
sublime, Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine, And fat regorg’d of bulls and goats, Chanting their idol, and preferring Before our living Dread who dwells In Silo his bright sanctuary : Among them he a spirit of frenzy 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, Unweetingly importun'd 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.
SEMICHOR. But he, though blind of sight, Despis’d and thought extinguish'd quite, With inward
1689 inward] H. More, Song of the Soul, 1642. c. iii. st. 9.
"Our inaoard eyes that they be nothing bright.'