Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is call’d Tragedy.
TRAGEDY, as it was antiently compos’d, hath been ever held the
gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other Poems:
therefore said by Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear,
or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions, that is
to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight,
stirr’d up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is
Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion: for
so in Physic things of melancholic hue and quality are us’d against
melancholy, sowr against sowr, salt to remove salt humours.
Hence Philosophers and other gravest Writers, as Cicero, Plutarch
and others, frequently cite out of Tragic Poets, both to adorn and
illustrate thir discourse. The Apostle Paul himself thought it not
unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the Text of Holy
Scripture, I Cor. 15. 33. and Paraeus commenting on the
Revelation, divides the whole Book as a Tragedy, into Acts
distinguisht each by a Chorus of Heavenly Harpings and Song
between. Heretofore Men in highest dignity have labour’d not a
little to be thought able to compose a Tragedy. Of that honour
Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, then before of his
attaining to the Tyranny. Augustus Caesar also had begun his
Ajax, but unable to please his own judgment with what he had
begun. left it unfinisht. Seneca the Philosopher is by some thought
the Author of those Tragedies (at lest the best of them) that go
under that name. Gregory Nazianzen a Father of the Church,
thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a
Tragedy which he entitl’d, Christ suffering. This is mention’d to
vindicate Tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which
in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common
Interludes; hap’ning through the Poets error of intermixing Comic
stuff with Tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and
vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath bin counted absurd; and
brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratifie the people. And
though antient Tragedy use no Prologue, yet using sometimes, in
case of self defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an
Epistle; in behalf of this Tragedy coming forth after the antient
manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus
much before-hand may be Epistl’d; that Chorus is here introduc’d
after the Greek manner, not antient only but modern, and still in
use among the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this Poem
with good reason, the Antients and Italians are rather follow’d, as
of much more authority and fame. The measure of Verse us’d in
the Chorus is of all sorts, call’d by the Greeks Monostrophic, or
rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe
or Epod, which were a kind of Stanza’s fram’d only for the Music,
then us’d with the Chorus that sung; not essential to the Poem, and
therefore not material; or being divided into Stanza’s or Pauses
they may be call’d Allaeostropha. Division into Act and Scene
referring chiefly to the Stage (to which this work never was
intended) is here omitted.
It suffices if the whole Drama be found not produc’t beyond the
fift Act, of the style and uniformitie, and that commonly call’d the
Plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such
oeconomy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with
verisimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not
unacquainted with Aeschulus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three
Tragic Poets unequall’d yet by any, and the best rule to all who
endeavour to write Tragedy. The circumscription of time wherein
the whole Drama begins and ends, is according to antient rule, and
best example, within the space of 24 hours.
Samson made Captive, Blind, and now in the Prison at Gaza, there
to labour as in a common work-house, on a Festival day, in the
general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open Air, to a
place nigh, somewhat retir’d there to sit 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 Manoa, who
endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his
liberty by ransom; lastly, that this Feast was proclaim’d by the
Philistins as a day of Thanksgiving for thir deliverance from the
hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoa then
departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian Lords for
Samson’s redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other
persons; and lastly by a publick Officer to require coming to the
Feast before the Lords and People, to play or shew his strength in
thir presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the publick officer with
absolute denyal to come; at length perswaded 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, Manoa returns full of joyful hope, to
procure e’re long his Sons deliverance: in the midst of which
discourse an Ebrew comes in haste confusedly at first; and
afterward more distinctly relating the Catastrophe, what Samson
had done to the Philistins, and by accident to himself; wherewith
the Tragedy ends.
Manoa the father of Samson.
Dalila his wife.
Harapha of Gath.
Chorus of Danites
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
Sam: 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 toyl,
Daily in the common Prison else enjoyn’d me,
Where I a Prisoner chain’d, scarce freely draw
The air imprison’d also, close and damp,
Unwholsom 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.
This day a solemn Feast the people hold
To Dagon thir Sea-Idol, and forbid
Laborious works, unwillingly this rest
Thir Superstition yields me; hence with leave
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the 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 Off’ring burn’d,
As in a fiery column charioting
His Godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal’d to Abraham’s race?
Why was my breeding order’d and prescrib’d
As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits; if I must dye
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
With this Heav’n-gifted strength? O glorious strength
Put to the labour of a Beast, debas’t
Lower then bondslave! 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 bonds under Philistian yoke;
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine Prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfilld but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but my self?
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
O’recome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensom,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
By weakest suttleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
God, when he gave me strength, to shew 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
Happ’ly had ends above my reach to know:
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the sourse 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 then chains,
Dungeon, or beggery, or decrepit age!
Light the prime work of God to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas’d,
Inferiour to the vilest now become
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me,
They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos’d
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 then 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 bereav’d 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 th’ eye confin’d?
So obvious and so easie to be quench’t,
And not as feeling through all parts diffus’d,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exil’d 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!
My self, my Sepulcher, a moving Grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By priviledge 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 stearing this way;
Perhaps my enemies who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
Thir daily practice to afflict me more.
Chor: This, this is he; softly a while,
Let us not break in upon him;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus’d,
With languish’t head unpropt,
As one past hope, abandon’d
And by himself given over;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O’re worn and soild;
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be hee,
That Heroic, that Renown’d,
Irresistible Samson? whom unarm’d
No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast could withstand;
Who tore the Lion, as the Lion tears the Kid,
Ran on embattelld Armies clad in Iron,
And weaponless himself,
Made Arms ridiculous, useless the forgery
Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer’d Cuirass,
Chalybean temper’d steel, and frock of mail
But safest he who stood aloof,
When insupportably his foot advanc’t,
In scorn of thir proud arms and warlike tools,
Spurn’d them to death by Troops. The bold Ascalonite
Fled from his Lion ramp, old Warriors turn’d
Thir plated backs under his heel;
Or grovling soild thir crested helmets in the dust.
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 Palestin
In Ramath-lechi famous to this day:
Then by main force pull’d up, and on his shoulders bore
The Gates of Azza, Post, and massie 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 Heav’n.
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy Bondage or lost Sight,
Prison within Prison
Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!)
The Dungeon of thy self; thy Soul
(Which Men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)
Imprison’d now indeed,
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 unparallel’d!
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fall’n.
For him I reckon not in high estate
Whom long descent of birth
Or the sphear of fortune raises;
But thee whose strength, while vertue was her mate
Might have subdu’d the Earth,
Universally crown’d with highest praises.
Sam: I hear the sound of words, thir sense the air
Dissolves unjointed e’re it reach my ear.
Chor: Hee speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief;
We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown
From Eshtaol and Zora’s fruitful Vale
To visit or bewail thee, or if better,
Counsel or Consolation we may bring,
Salve to thy Sores, apt words have power to swage
The tumors of a troubl’d mind,
And are as Balm to fester’d wounds.
Sam: Your coming, Friends, revives me, for I learn
Now of my own experience, not by talk,
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 adverse withdraw their head
Not to be found, though sought. Wee see, O friends.
How many evils have enclos’d me round;
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness, for had I sight, confus’d with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
Who like a foolish Pilot have shipwrack’t,
My Vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigg’d; and for a word, a tear,
Fool, have divulg’d the secret gift of God
To a deceitful Woman : tell me Friends,
Am I not sung and proverbd 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 then mean;
This with the other should, at least, have paird,
These two proportiond ill drove me transverse.
Chor: Tax not divine disposal, wisest Men
Have err’d, and by bad Women been deceiv’d;
And shall again, pretend they ne’re so wise.
Deject not then so overmuch thy self,
Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides;
Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather
Then of thine own Tribe fairer, or as fair,
At least of thy own Nation, and as noble.
Sam: The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas’d
Mee, 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 urg’d
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)
Was in the Vale of Sorec, Dalila,
That specious Monster, my accomplisht snare.
I thought it lawful from my former act,
And the same end; still watching to oppress
Israel’s oppressours: of what now I suffer
She was not the prime cause, but I my self,
Who vanquisht with a peal of words (O weakness!)
Gave up my fort of silence to a Woman.
Chor: In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy Countries Enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I hear thee witness:
Yet Israel still serves with all his Sons.
Sam: That fault I take not on me, but transfer
On Israel’s Governours, and Heads of Tribes,
Who seeing those great acts which God had done
Singly by me against their Conquerours
Acknowledg’d not, or not at all consider’d
Deliverance offerd : I on th’ other side
Us’d no ambition to commend my deeds,
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the dooer;
But they persisted deaf, and would not seem
To count them things worth notice, till at length
Thir Lords the Philistines with gather’d powers
Enterd Judea seeking mee, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retir’d,
Not flying, but fore-casting in what place
To set upon them, what advantag’d best;
Mean while the men of Judah to prevent
The harrass of thir Land, beset me round;
I willingly on some conditions came
Into thir hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcis’d a welcom prey,
Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threds
Toucht with the flame: on thir whole Host I flew
Unarm’d, and with a trivial weapon fell’d
Thir choicest youth; they only liv’d 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 now they serve;
But what more oft in Nations grown corrupt,
And by thir vices brought to servitude,
Then to love Bondage more then Liberty,
Bondage with ease then strenuous liberty;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Whom God hath of his special favour rais’d
As thir 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
Thir great Deliverer contemn’d,
The matchless Gideon in pursuit
Of Madian and her vanquisht Kings;
And how ingrateful Ephraim
Not worse then by his shield and spear
Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quell’d thir pride
In that sore battel when so many dy’d
Without Reprieve adjudg’d to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
Sam: Of such examples adde mee to the roul,
Mee easily indeed mine may neglect,
But Gods propos’d 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 rains to wandring thought,
Regardless of his glories diminution;
Till by thir own perplexities involv’d
They ravel more, still less resolv’d,
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th’ 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 dispence.
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 down,
Though Reason here aver
That moral verdit quits her of unclean :
Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his.
But see here comes thy reverend Sire
With careful step, Locks white as doune,
Old Manoah: advise
Forthwith how thou oughtst to receive him.
Sam: Ay me, another inward grief awak’t,
With mention of that name renews th’ assault.
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 earst in highest; behold him where be 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 thir streets,
None offering fight; who single combatant
Duell’d thir Armies rank’t in proud array,
Himself an Army, now unequal match
To save himself against a coward arm’d
At one spears 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 giv’n with solemn hand
As Graces, draw a Scorpions 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’rewhelm, and as a thrall
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honours sake of former deeds.
Sam: Appoint not heavenly disposition, Father,
Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me
But justly; I my self have brought them on,
Sole Author I, sole cause: if aught seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who have profan’d
The mystery of God giv’n 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 profest, carrying it strait
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 conceiv’d
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 stor’d 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 purpos’d to betray me, and (which was worse
Then undissembl’d hate) with what contempt
She sought to make me Traytor to my self;
Yet the fourth time, when mustring all her wiles,
With blandisht parlies, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceas’d not day nor night
To storm me over-watch’t, 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 resolv’d
Might easily have shook off all her snares :
But foul effeminacy held me yok’t
Her Bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To Honour and Religion! servil mind
Rewarded well with servil punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fall’n,
These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,
True slavery, and that blindness worse then this,
That saw not how degeneratly I serv’d.
Man: I cannot praise thy Marriage choises, Son,
Rather approv’d 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
Thir Captive, and thir 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 hear’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 thir hands,
Them out of thine, who slew’st them many a slain.
So Dagon shall be magnifi’d, and God,
Besides whom is no God, compar’d with Idols,
Disglorifi’d, blasphem’d, and had in scorn
By th’ Idolatrous rout amidst thir 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 Fathers house.
Sam: Father, I do acknowledge and confess
That I this honour, I this pomp have brought
To Dagon, and advanc’d his praises high
Among the Heathen round; to God have brought
Dishonour, obloquie, and op’t the mouths
Of Idolists, and Atheists; have brought scandal
To Israel diffidence of God, and doubt
In feeble hearts, propense anough before
To waver, or fall off and joyn with Idols:
Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow,
The anguish of my Soul, that suffers not
Mine eie to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest.
This only hope relieves me, that the strife
With me hath end; all the contest is now
‘Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presum’d,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
His Deity comparing and preferring
Before the God of Abraham. He, he sure,
Will not connive, or linger, thus provok’d,
But will arise and his great name assert:
Dagon must stoop, and shall e’re long receive
Such a discomfit, as shall quite despoil him
Of all these boasted Trophies won on me,
And with confusion blank his Worshippers.
Man: With cause this hope relieves thee, and these words
I as a Prophecy receive: for God,
Nothing more certain, will not long defer
To vindicate the glory of his name
Against all competition, nor will long
Endure it, doubtful whether God be Lord,
Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done?
Thou must not in the mean while here forgot
Lie in this miserable loathsom plight
Neglected. I already have made way
To some Philistian Lords, with whom to treat
About thy ransom: well they may by this
Have satisfi’d thir utmost of revenge
By pains and slaveries, worse then death inflicted
On thee, who now no more canst do them harm.
Sam: Spare that proposal, Father, spare the trouble
Of that sollicitation; let me here,
As I deserve, pay on my punishment;
And expiate, if possible, my crime,
Shameful garrulity. To have reveal’d
Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend,
How hainous had the fact been, how deserving
Contempt, and scorn of all, to be excluded
All friendship, and avoided as a blab,
The mark of fool set on his front?
But I Gods counsel have not kept, his holy secret
Presumptuously have publish’d, impiously,
Weakly at least, and shamefully: A sin
That Gentiles in thir Parables condemn
To thir abyss and horrid pains confin’d.
Man: Be penitent and for thy fault contrite,
But act not in thy own affliction, Son,
Repent the sin, but if the punishment
Thou canst avoid, selfpreservation bids;
Or th’ execution leave to high disposal,
And let another hand, not thine, exact
Thy penal forfeit from thy self; perhaps
God will relent, and quit thee all his debt;
Who evermore approves and more accepts
(Best pleas’d with humble and filial submission)
Him who imploring mercy sues for life,
Then who selfrigorous chooses death as due;
Which argues overjust, and self-displeas’d
For self-offence, more then for God offended.
Reject not then what offerd means, who knows
But God hath set before us, to return thee
Home to thy countrey and his sacred house,
Where thou mayst bring thy off’rings, to avert
His further ire, with praiers and vows renew’d.
Sam: His pardon I implore; but as for life,
To what end should I seek it? when in strength
All mortals I excell’d, and great in hopes
With youthful courage and magnanimous thoughts
Of birth from Heav’n foretold and high exploits,
Full of divine instinct, after some proof
Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond
The Sons of Anac, famous now and blaz’d,
Fearless of danger, like a petty God
I walk’d about admir’d of all and dreaded
On hostile ground, none daring my affront.
Then swoll’n with pride into the snare I fell
Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains,
Softn’d with pleasure and voluptuous life;
At length to lay my head and hallow’d pledge
Of all my strength in the lascivious lap
Of a deceitful Concubine who shore me
Like a tame Weather, all my precious fleece,
Then turn’d me out ridiculous, despoil’d,
Shav’n, and disarm’d among my enemies.
Chor. Desire of wine and all delicious drinks,
Which many a famous Warriour overturns,
Thou couldst repress, nor did the dancing Rubie
Sparkling; out-pow’rd, the flavor, or the smell,
Or taste that cheers the heart of Gods and men,
Allure thee from the cool Crystalline stream.
Sam. Where ever fountain or fresh current flow’d
Against the Eastern ray, translucent, pure,
With touch aetherial of Heav’ns fiery rod
I drank, from the clear milkie juice allaying
Thirst, and refresht; nor envy’d them the grape
Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with fumes.
Chor. O madness, to think use of strongest wines
And strongest drinks our chief support of health,
When God with these forbid’n made choice to rear
His mighty Champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
Sam. But what avail’d this temperance, not compleat
Against another object more enticing?
What boots it at one gate to make defence,
And at another to let in the foe
Effeminatly vanquish’t? by which means,
Now blind, disheartn’d, sham’d, dishonour’d, quell’d,
To what can I be useful, wherein serve
My Nation, and the work from Heav’n impos’d,
But to sit idle on the houshold hearth,
A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Robustious to no purpose clustring down,
Vain monument of strength; till length of years
And sedentary numness craze my limbs
To a contemptible old age obscure.
Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread,
Till vermin or the draff of servil food
Consume me, and oft-invocated death
Hast’n the welcom end of all my pains.
Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift
Which was expresly giv’n thee to annoy them?
Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle,
Inglorious, unimploy’d, with age out-worn.
But God who caus’d a fountain at thy prayer
From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay
After the brunt of battel, can as easie
Cause light again within thy eies to spring,
Wherewith to serve him better then thou hast;
And I perswade me so; why else this strength
Miraculous yet remaining in those locks?
His might continues in thee not for naught,
Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.
Sam: All otherwise to me my thoughts portend,
That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light,
Nor th’ other light of life continue long,
But yield to double darkness nigh at hand:
So much I feel my genial spirits droop,
My hopes all flat, nature within me seems
In all her functions weary of herself;
My race of glory run, and race of shame,
And I shall shortly be with them that rest.
Man. Believe not these suggestions which proceed
From anguish of the mind and humours black,
That mingle with thy fancy. I however
Must not omit a Fathers timely care
To prosecute the means of thy deliverance
By ransom or how else: mean while be calm,
And healing words from these thy friends admit.
Sam. O that torment should not be confin’d
To the bodies wounds and sores
With maladies innumerable
In heart, head, brest, and reins;
But must secret passage find
To th’ inmost mind,
There exercise all his fierce accidents,
And on her purest spirits prey,
As on entrails, joints, and limbs,
With answerable pains, but more intense,
‘Though void of corporal sense.
My griefs not only pain me
As a lingring disease,
But finding no redress, ferment and rage,
Nor less then wounds immedicable
Ranckle, and fester, and gangrene,
To black mortification.
Thoughts my Tormenters arm’d with deadly stings
Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts,
Exasperate, exulcerate, and raise
Dire inflammation which no cooling herb
Or rnedcinal liquor can asswage,
Nor breath of Vernal Air from snowy Alp.
Sleep hath forsook and giv’n me o’re
To deaths benumming Opium as my only cure.
Thence faintings, swounings of despair,
And sense of Heav’ns desertion.
I was his nursling once and choice delight,
His destin’d from the womb,
Promisd by Heavenly message twice descending.
Under his special eie
Abstemious I grew up and thriv’d amain;
He led me on to mightiest deeds
Above the nerve of mortal arm
Against the uncircumcis’d, our enemies.
But now hath cast me off as never known,
And to those cruel enemies,
Whom I by his appointment had provok’t,
Left me all helpless with th’ irreparable loss
Of sight, reserv’d alive to be repeated
The subject of thir cruelty, or scorn.
Nor am I in the list of them that hope;
Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless;
This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard,
No long petition, speedy death,
The close of all my miseries, and the balm.
Chor: Many are the sayings of the wise
In antient and in modern books enroll’d;
Extolling Patience as the truest fortitude;
And to the bearing well of all calamities,
All chances incident to mans frail life
With studied argument, and much perswasion sought
Lenient of grief and anxious thought,
But with th’ afflicted in his pangs thir sound
Little prevails, or rather seems a tune,
Harsh, and of dissonant mood from his complaint,
Unless he feel within
Some sourse of consolation from above;
Secret refreshings, that repair his strength,
And fainting spirits uphold.
God of our Fathers, what is man!
That thou towards him with hand so various,
Or might I say contrarious,
Temperst thy providence through his short course,
Not evenly, as thou rul’st
The Angelic orders and inferiour creatures mute,
Irrational and brute.
Nor do I name of men the common rout,
That wandring loose about
Grow up and perish, as the summer flie,
Heads without name no more rememberd,
But such as thou hast solemnly elected,
With gifts and graces eminently adorn’d
To some great work, thy glory,
And peoples safety, which in part they effect:
Yet toward these thus dignifi’d, thou oft
Amidst thir highth of noon,
Changest thy countenance, and thy hand with no regard
Of highest favours past
From thee on them, or them to thee of service.
Nor only dost degrade them, or remit
To life obscur’d, which were a fair dismission,
But throw’st them lower then thou didst exalt them high,
Unseemly falls in human eie,
Too grievous for the trespass or omission,
Oft leav’st them to the hostile sword
Of Heathen and prophane, thir carkasses
To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captiv’d:
Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times,
And condemnation of the ingrateful multitude.
If these they scape, perhaps in poverty
With sickness and disease thou bow’st them down,
Painful diseases and deform’d,
In crude old age;
Though not disordinate, yet causless suffring
The punishment of dissolute days, in fine,
Just or unjust, alike seem miserable,
For oft alike, both come to evil end.
So deal not with this once thy glorious Champion,
The Image of thy strength, and mighty minister.
What do I beg? how hast thou dealt already?
Behold him in this state calamitous, and turn
His labours, for thou canst, to peaceful end.
But who is this, what thing of Sea or Land?
Femal of sex it seems,
That so bedeckt, ornate, and gay,
Comes this way sailing
Like a stately Ship
Of Tarsus, bound for th’ Isles
Of Javan or Gadier
With all her bravery on, and tackle trim,
Sails fill’d, and streamers waving,
Courted by all the winds that hold them play,
An Amber sent of odorous perfume
Her harbinger, a damsel train behind;
Some rich Philistian Matron she may seem,
And now at nearer view, no other certain
Than Dalila thy wife.
Sam: My Wife, my Traytress, let her not come near me.
Cho: Yet on she moves, now stands & eies thee fixt,
About t’have spoke, but now, with head declin’d
Like a fair flower surcharg’d with dew, she weeps
And words addrest seem into tears dissolv’d,
Wetting the borders of her silk’n veil:
But now again she makes address to speak.
Dal: With doubtful feet and wavering resolution
I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson,
Which to have merited, without excuse,
I cannot but acknowledge; yet if tears
May expiate (though the fact more evil drew
In the perverse event then I foresaw)
My penance hath not slack’n’d, though my pardon
No way assur’d. But conjugal affection
Prevailing over fear, and timerous doubt
Hath led me on desirous to behold
Once more thy face, and know of thy estate.
If aught in my ability may serve
To light’n what thou suffer’st, and appease
Thy mind with what amends is in my power,
Though late, yet in some part to recompense
My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.
Sam: Out, out Hyaena; these are thy wonted arts,
And arts of every woman false like thee,
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray,
Then as repentant to submit, beseech,
And reconcilement move with feign’d remorse,
Confess, and promise wonders in her change,
Not truly penitent, but chief to try
Her husband, how far urg’d his patience bears,
His vertue or weakness which way to assail:
Then with more cautious and instructed skill
Again transgresses, and again submits;
That wisest and best men full oft beguil’d
With goodness principl’d not to reject
The penitent, but ever to forgive,
Are drawn to wear out miserable days,
Entangl’d with a poysnous bosom snake,
If not by quick destruction soon cut off
As I by thee, to Ages an example.
Dal: Yet hear me Samson; not that I endeavour
To lessen or extenuate my offence,
But that on th’ other side if it be weigh’d
By it self, with aggravations not surcharg’d,
Or else with just allowance counterpois’d
I may, if possible, thy pardon find
The easier towards me, or thy hatred less.
First granting, as I do, it was a weakness
In me, but incident to all our sex,
Curiosity, inquisitive, importune
Of secrets, then with like infirmity
To publish them, both common female faults:
Was it not weakness also to make known
For importunity, that is for naught,
Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety?
To what I did thou shewdst me first the way.
But I to enemies reveal’d, and should not.
Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to womans frailty
E’re I to thee, thou to thy self wast cruel.
Let weakness then with weakness come to parl
So near related, or the same of kind,
Thine forgive mine; that men may censure thine
The gentler, if severely thou exact not
More strength from me, then in thy self was found.
And what if Love, which thou interpret’st hate,
The jealousie of Love, powerful of sway
In human hearts, nor less in mine towards thee,
Caus’d what I did? I saw thee mutable
Of fancy, feard lest one day thou wouldst leave me
As her at Timna, sought by all means therefore
How to endear, and hold thee to me firmest:
No better way I saw then by importuning
To learn thy secrets, get into my power
Thy key of strength and safety: thou wilt say,
Why then reveal’d? I was assur’d by those
Who tempted me, that nothing was design’d
Against thee but safe custody, and hold:
That made for me, I knew that liberty
Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises,
While I at home sate full of cares and fears
Wailing thy absence in my widow’d bed;
Here I should still enjoy thee day and night
Mine and Loves prisoner, not the Philistines,
Whole to my self, unhazarded abroad,
Fearless at home of partners in my love.
These reasons in Loves law have past for good,
Though fond and reasonless to some perhaps:
And Love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much wo,
Yet always pity or pardon hath obtain’d.
Be not unlike all others, not austere
As thou art strong, inflexible as steel.
If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed,
In uncompassionate anger do not so.
Sam: How cunningly the sorceress displays
Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine!
That malice not repentance brought thee hither,
By this appears : I gave, thou say’st, th’ example,
I led the way; bitter reproach, but true,
I to my self was false e’re thou to me,
Such pardon therefore as I give my folly,
Take to thy wicked deed: which when thou seest
Impartial, self-severe, inexorable,
Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather
Confess it feign’d, weakness is thy excuse,
And I believe it, weakness to resist
Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse,
What Murtherer, what Traytor, Parricide,
Incestuous, Sacrilegious, but may plead it?
All wickedness is weakness : that plea therefore
With God or Man will gain thee no remission.
But Love constrain’d thee; call it furious rage
To satisfie thy lust: Love seeks to have Love;
My love how couldst thou hope, who tookst the way
To raise in me inexpiable hate,
Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray’d ?
In vain thou striv’st to cover shame with shame,
Or by evasions thy crime uncoverst more.
Dal: Since thou determinst weakness for no plea
In man or woman, though to thy own condemning,
Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides,
What sieges girt me round, e’re I consented;
Which might have aw’d the best resolv’d of men,
The constantest to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou lay’st,
That wrought with me: thou know’st the Magistrates
And Princes of my countrey came in person,
Sollicited, commanded, threatn’d, urg’d,
Adjur’d by all the bonds of civil Duty
And of Religion, press’d how just it was,
How honourable, how glorious to entrap
A common enemy, who had destroy’d
Such numbers of our Nation : and the Priest
Was not behind, but ever at my ear,
Preaching how meritorious with the gods
It would be to ensnare an irreligious
Dishonourer of Dagon : what had I
To oppose against such powerful arguments?
Only my love of thee held long debate;
And combated in silence all these reasons
With hard contest: at length that grounded maxim
So rife and celebrated in the mouths
Of wisest men; that to the public good
Private respects must yield; with grave authority’
Took full possession of me and prevail’d;
Vertue, as I thought, truth, duty so enjoyning.
Sam: I thought where all thy circling wiles would end;
In feign’d Religion, smooth hypocrisie.
But had thy love, still odiously pretended,
Bin, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee
Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds.
I before all the daughters of my Tribe
And of my Nation chose thee from among
My enemies, lov’d thee, as too well thou knew’st,
Too well, unbosom’d all my secrets to thee,
Not out of levity, but over-powr’d
By thy request, who could deny thee nothing;
Yet now am judg’d an enemy. Why then
Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband?
Then, as since then, thy countries foe profest:
Being once a wife, for me thou wast to leave
Parents and countrey; nor was I their subject,
Nor under their protection but my own,
Thou mine, not theirs: if aught against my life
Thy countrey sought of thee, it sought unjustly,
Against the law of nature, law of nations,
No more thy countrey, but an impious crew
Of men conspiring to uphold thir state
By worse than hostile deeds, violating the ends
For which our countrey is a name so dear;
Not therefore to be obey’d. But zeal mov’d thee;
To please thy gods thou didst it; gods unable
To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes
But by ungodly deeds, the contradiction
Of their own deity, Gods cannot be:
Less therefore to be pleas’d, obey’d, or fear’d,
These false pretexts and varnish’d colours failing,
Bare in thy guilt how foul must thou appear?
Dal: In argument with men a woman ever
Goes by the worse, whatever be her cause.
Sam: For want of words no doubt, or lack of breath,
Witness when I was worried with thy peals.
Dal: I was a fool, too rash, and quite mistaken
In what I thought would have succeeded best.
Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson,
Afford me place to shew what recompence
Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone,
Misguided: only what remains past cure
Bear not too sensibly, nor still insist
To afflict thy self in vain: though sight be lost,
Life yet hath many solaces, enjoy’d
Where other senses want not their delights
At home in leisure and domestic ease,
Exempt from many a care and chance to which
Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.
I to the Lords will intercede, not doubting
Thir favourable ear, that I may fetch thee
From forth this loathsom prison-house, to abide
With me, where my redoubl’d love and care
With nursing diligence, to me glad office,
May ever tend about thee to old age
With all things grateful chear’d, and so suppli’d,
That what by me thou hast lost thou least shalt miss.
Sam: No, no, of my condition take no care;
It fits not; thou and I long since are twain;
Nor think me so unwary or accurst
To bring my feet again into the snare
Where once I have been caught; I know thy trains
Though dearly to my cost, thy ginns, and toyls;
Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms
No more on me have power, their force is null’d,
So much of Adders wisdom I have learn’t
To fence my ear against thy sorceries.
If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men
Lov’d, honour’d, fear’d me, thou alone could hate me
Thy Husband, slight me, sell me, and forgo me;
How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby
Deceiveable, in most things as a child
Helpless, thence easily contemn’d, and scorn’d,
And last neglected? How wouldst thou insult
When I must live uxorious to thy will
In perfet thraldom, how again betray me,
Bearing my words and doings to the Lords
To gloss upon, and censuring, frown or smile?
This Gaol I count the house of Liberty
To thine whose doors my feet shall never enter.
Dal: Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Sam: Not for thy life, lest fierce remembrance wake
My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint.
At distance I forgive thee, go with that;
Bewail thy falshood, and the pious works
It hath brought forth to make thee memorable
Among illustrious women, faithful wives:
Cherish thy hast’n’d widowhood with the gold
Of Matrimonial treason: so farewel.
Dal: I see thou art implacable, more deaf
To prayers, then winds and seas, yet winds to seas
Are reconcil’d at length, and Sea to Shore:
Thy anger, unappeasable, still rages,
Eternal tempest never to be calm’d.
Why do I humble thus my self, and suing
For peace, reap nothing but repulse and hate?
Bid go with evil omen and the brand
Of infamy upon my name denounc’t?
To mix with thy concernments I desist
Henceforth, nor too much disapprove my own.
Fame if not double-fac’t is double-mouth’d,
And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds,
On both his wings, one black, th’ other white,
Bears greatest names in his wild aerie flight.
My name perhaps among the Circumcis’d
In Dan, in Judah, and the bordering Tribes,
To all posterity may stand defam’d,
With malediction mention’d, and the blot
Of falshood most unconjugal traduc’t.
But in my countrey where I most desire,
In Ecron, Gaza, Asdod, and in Gath
I shall be nam’d among the famousest
Of Women, sung at solemn festivals,
Living and dead recorded, who to save
Her countrey from a fierce destroyer, chose
Above the faith of wedlock-bands, my tomb
With odours visited and annual flowers.
Not less renown’d then in Mount Ephraim,
Jael who with inhospitable guile
Smote Sisera sleeping through the Temples nail’d.
Nor shall I count it hainous to enjoy
The public marks of honour and reward
Conferr’d upon me, for the piety
Which to my countrey I was judg’d to have shewn.
At this who ever envies or repines
I leave him to his lot, and like my own.
Chor: She’s gone, a manifest Serpent by her sting
Discover’d in the end, till now conceal’d.
Sam: So let her go, God sent her to debase me,
And aggravate my folly who committed
To such a viper his most sacred trust
Of secresie, my safety, and my life.
Chor: Yet beauty, though injurious, hath strange power,
After offence returning, to regain
Love once possest, nor can be easily
Repuls’t, without much inward passion felt
And secret sting of amorous remorse.
Sam: Love-quarrels oft in pleasing concord end,
Not wedlock-trechery endangering life.
Chor: It is not vertue, wisdom, valour, wit,
Strength, comliness of shape, or amplest merit
That womans love can win or long inherit;
But what it is, hard is to say,
Harder to hit,
(Which way soever men refer it)
Much like thy riddle, Samson, in one day
Or seven, though one should musing sit;
If any of these or all, the Timnian bride
Had not so soon preferr’d
Thy Paranymph, worthless to thee compar’d,
Successour in thy bed,
Nor both so loosly disally’d
Thir nuptials, nor this last so trecherously
Had shorn the fatal harvest of thy head.
Is it for that such outward ornament
Was lavish’t on thir Sex, that inward gifts
Were left for hast unfinish’t, judgment scant,
Capacity not rais’d to apprehend
Or value what is best
In choice, but oftest to affect the wrong?
Or was too much of self-love mixt,
Of constancy no root infixt,
That either they love nothing, or not long?
What e’re it be, to wisest men and best
Seeming at first all heavenly under virgin veil,
Soft, modest, meek, demure,
Once join’d, the contrary she proves, a thorn
Intestin, far within defensive arms
A cleaving mischief, in his way to vertue
Adverse and turbulent, or by her charms
Draws him awry enslav’d
With dotage, and his sense deprav’d
To folly and shameful deeds which ruin ends.
What Pilot so expert but needs must wreck
Embarqu’d with such a Stears-mate at the Helm?
Favour’d of Heav’n who finds
One vertuous rarely found,
That in domestic good combines:
Happy that house! his way to peace is smooth:
But vertue which breaks through all opposition,
And all temptation can remove,
Most shines and most is acceptable above.
Therefore Gods universal Law
Gave to the man despotic power
Over his female in due awe,
Nor from that right to part an hour,
Smile she or lowre:
So shall he least confusion draw
On his whole life, not sway’d
By female usurpation, nor dismay’d.
But had we best retire, I see a storm?
Sam: Fair days have oft contracted wind and rain.
Chor: But this another kind of tempest brings.
Sam: Be less abstruse, my riddling days are past.
Chor: Look now for no inchanting voice, nor fear
The bait of honied words; a rougher tongue
Draws hitherward, I know him by his stride,
The Giant Harapha of Gath, his look
Haughty as is his pile high-built and proud.
Comes he in peace? what wind hath blown him hither
I less conjecture then when first I saw
The sumptuous Dalila floating this way:
His habit carries peace, his brow defiance.
Sam: Or peace or not, alike to me he comes.
Chor: His fraught we soon shall know, he now arrives.
Har: I come not Samson, to condole thy chance,
As these perhaps, yet wish it had not been,
Though for no friendly intent. I am of Gath,
Men call me Harapha, of stock renown’d
As Og or Anak and the Emims old
That Kiriathaim held, thou knowst me now
If thou at all art known. Much I have heard
Of thy prodigious might and feats perform’d
Incredible to me, in this displeas’d,
That I was never present on the place
Of those encounters, where we might have tri’d
Each others force in camp or listed field:
And now am come to see of whom such noise
Hath walk’d about, and each limb to survey,
If thy appearance answer loud report.
Sam: The way to know were not to see but taste.
Har: Dost thou already single me; I thought
Gives and the Mill had tam’d thee? O that fortune
Had brought me to the field where thou art fam’d
To have wrought such wonders with an Asses Jaw;
I should have forc’d thee soon with other arms,
Or left thy carkass where the Ass lay thrown:
So had the glory of Prowess been recover’d
To Palestine, won by a Philistine
From the unforeskinn’d race, of whom thou hear’st
The highest name for valiant Acts, that honour
Certain to have won by mortal duel from thee,
I lose, prevented by thy eyes put out.
Sam: Boast not of what thou wouldst have done, but do
What then thou would’st, thou seest it in thy hand.
Har: To combat with a blind man I disdain
And thou hast need much washing to be toucht.
Sam: Such usage as your honourable Lords
Afford me assassinated and betray’d,
Who durst not with thir whole united powers
In fight withstand me single and unarm’d,
Nor in the house with chamber Ambushes
Close-banded durst attaque me, no not sleeping,
Till they had hir’d a woman with their gold
Breaking her Marriage Faith to circumvent me.
Therefore without feign’d shifts let be assign’d
Some narrow place enclos’d, where sight may give thee.
Or rather flight, no great advantage on me;
Then put on all thy gorgeous arms, thy Helmet
And Brigandine of brass, thy broad Habergeon.
Vant-brass and Greves, and Gauntlet, add thy Spear
A Weavers beam, and seven-times-folded shield.
I only with an Oak’n staff will meet thee,
And raise such out-cries on thy clatter’d Iron,
Which long shall not with-hold mee from thy head,
That in a little time while breath remains thee,
Thou oft shalt wish thy self at Gath to boast
Again in safety what thou wouldst have done
To Samson, but shalt never see Gath more.
Har: Thou durst not thus disparage glorious arms
Which greatest Heroes have in battel worn,
Thir ornament and safety, had not spells
And black enchantments, some Magicians Art
Arm’d thee or charm’d thee strong, which thou from Heaven
Feigndst at thy birth was giv’n thee in thy hair,
Where strength can least abide, though all thy hairs
Were bristles rang’d like those that ridge the back
Of chaf’t wild Boars, or ruffl’d Porcupines.
Sam: I know no Spells, use no forbidden Arts;
My trust is in the living God who gave me
At my Nativity this strength, diffus’d
No less through all my sinews, joints and bones,
Then thine, while I preserv’d these locks unshorn,
The pledge of my unviolated vow.
For proof hereof, if Dagon be thy god,
Go to his Temple, invocate his aid
With solemnest devotion, spread before him
How highly it concerns his glory now
To frustrate and dissolve these Magic spells,
Which I to be the power of Israel’s God
Avow, and challenge Dagon to the test,
Offering to combat thee his Champion bold,
With th’ utmost of his Godhead seconded:
Then thou shalt see, or rather to thy sorrow
Soon feel, whose God is strongest, thine or mine.
Har: Presume not on thy God, what e’re he be,
Thee he regards not, owns not, hath cut off
Quite from his people, and delivered up
Into thy Enemies hand, permitted them
To put out both thine eyes, and fetter’d send thee
Into the common Prison, there to grind
Among the Slaves and Asses thy comrades,
As good for nothing else, no better service
With those, thy boyst’rous locks, no worthy match
For valour to assail, nor by the sword
Of noble Warriour, so to stain his honour,
But by the Barbers razor best subdu’d.
Sam: All these indignities, for such they are
From thine, these evils I deserve and more,
Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me
Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon
Whose ear is ever open; and his eye
Gracious to re-admit the suppliant;
In confidence whereof I once again
Defie thee to the trial of mortal fight,
By combat to decide whose god is God,
Thine or whom I with Israel’s Sons adore.
Har: Fair honour that thou dost thy God, in trusting
He will accept thee to defend his cause,
A Murtherer, a Revolter, and a Robber.
Sam: Tongue-doubtie Giant, how dost thou prove me these?
Har: Is not thy Nation subject to our Lords?
Thir Magistrates confest it, when they took thee
As a League-breaker and deliver’d bound
Into our hands: for hadst thou not committed
Notorious murder on those thirty men
At Askalon, who never did thee harm,
Then like a Robber stripdst them of thir robes?
The Philistines, when thou hadst broke the league,
Went up with armed powers thee only seeking,
To others did no violence nor spoil.
Sam: Among the Daughters of the Philistines
I chose a Wife, which argu’d me no foe;
And in your City held my Nuptial Feast:
But your ill-meaning Politician Lords,
Under pretence of Bridal friends and guests,
Appointed to await me thirty spies,
Who threatning cruel death constrain’d the bride
To wring from me and tell to them my secret,
That solv’d the riddle which I had propos’d.
When I perceiv’d all set on enmity,
As on my enemies, where ever chanc’d,
I us’d hostility, and took thir spoil
To pay my underminers in thir coin.
My Nation was subjected to your Lords.
It was the force of Conquest; force with force
Is well ejected when the Conquer’d can.
But I a private person, whom my Countrey
As a league-breaker gave up bound, presum’d
Single Rebellion and did Hostile Acts.
I was no private but a person rais’d
With strength sufficient and command from Heav’n
To free my Countrey; if their servile minds
Me their Deliverer sent would not receive,
But to thir Masters gave me up for nought,
Th’ unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.
I was to do my part from Heav’n assign’d,
And had perform’d it if my known offence
Had not disabl’d me, not all your force:
These shifts refuted, answer thy appellant
Though by his blindness maim’d for high attempts,
Who now defies thee thrice to single fight,
As a petty enterprise of small enforce.
Har: With thee a Man condemn’d, a Slave enrol’d,
Due by the Law to capital punishment?
To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.
Sam: Cam’st thou for this, vain boaster, to survey me,
To descant on my strength, and give thy verdit?
Come nearer, part not hence so slight inform’d;
But take good heed my hand survey not thee.
Har: O Baal-zebub! can my ears unus’d
Hear these dishonours, and not render death?
Sam: No man with-holds thee, nothing from thy hand
Fear I incurable; bring up thy van,
My heels are fetter’d, but my fist is free.
Har: This insolence other kind of answer fits.
Sam: Go baffl’d coward, lest I run upon thee,
Though in these chains, bulk without spirit vast,
And with one buffet lay thy structure low,
Or swing thee in the Air, then dash thee down
To the hazard of thy brains and shatter’d sides.
Har: By Astaroth e’re long thou shalt lament
These braveries in Irons loaden on thee.
Chor: His Giantship is gone somewhat crestfall’n,
Stalking with less unconsci’nable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultrie chafe.
Sam: I dread him not, nor all his Giant-brood,
Though Fame divulge him Father of five Sons
All of Gigantic size, Goliah chief.
Chor: He will directly to the Lords, I fear,
And with malitious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
Sam: He must allege some cause, and offer’d fight
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise
Whether he durst accept the offer or not,
And that he durst not plain enough appear’d.
Much more affliction then already felt
They cannot well impose, nor I sustain;
If they intend advantage of my labours
The work of many hands, which earns my keeping
With no small profit daily to my owners.
But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove
My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence,
The worst that he can give, to me the best.
Yet so it may fall out, because thir end
Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Draw thir own ruin who attempt the deed.
Chor: Oh how comely it is and how reviving
To the Spirits of just men long opprest!
When God into the hands of thir deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the Earth, th’ oppressour,
The brute and boist’rous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous and all such as honour Truth;
He all thir Ammunition
And feats of War defeats
With plain Heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour arm’d,
Thir Armories and Magazins contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who surpris’d
Lose thir defence distracted and amaz’d.
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of Saints, the trial of thir fortitude,
Making them each his own Deliverer,
And Victor over all
That tyrannie or fortune can inflict,
Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endu’d
Above the Sons of men; but sight bereav’d
May chance to number thee with those
Whom Patience finally must crown.
This Idols day hath bin to thee no day of rest,
Labouring thy mind
More then the working day thy hands,
And yet perhaps more trouble is behind.
For I descry this way
Some other tending, in his hand
A Scepter or quaint staff he bears,
Comes on amain, speed in his look.
By his habit I discern him now
A Public Officer, and now at hand.
His message will be short and voluble.
Off: Ebrews, the Pris’ner Samson here I seek.
Chor: His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Off: Samson, to thee our Lords thus bid me say;
This day to Dagon is a solemn Feast,
With Sacrifices, Triumph, Pomp, and Games;
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some public proof thereof require
To honour this great Feast, and great Assembly;
Rise therefore with all speed and come along,
Where I will see thee heartn’d and fresh clad
To appear as fits before th’ illustrious Lords.
Sam: Thou knowst I am an Ebrew, therefore tell them,
Our Law forbids at thir Religious Rites
My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Off: This answer, be assur’d, will not content them.
Sam: Have they not Sword-players, and ev’ry sort
Of Gymnic Artists, Wrestlers, Riders, Runners,
Juglers and Dancers, Antics, Mummers, Mimics,
But they must pick me out with shackles tir’d,
And over-labour’d at thir publick Mill,
To make them sport with blind activity?
Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels
On my refusal to distress me more,
Or make a game of my calamities?
Return the way thou cam’st, I will not come.
Off: Regard thy self, this will offend them highly.
Sam: My self? my conscience and internal peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debas’d
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Although thir drudge, to be thir fool or jester,
And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To shew them feats, and play before thir god,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Joyn’d with extream contempt? I will not come.
Off: My message was impos’d on me with speed,
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?
Sam: So take it with what speed thy message needs.
Off : I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Sam: Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
Chor: Consider, Samson; matters now are strain’d
Up to the highth, whether to bold or break;
He’s gone, and who knows how he may report
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message more imperious,
More Lordly thund’ring then thou well wilt bear.
Sam: Shall I abuse t