« PreviousContinue »
Rise therefore with all speed and come along,
Where I will see thee hiearten'd and fresh clad
T' appear as fits before th' illustrious lords.
Sams. Thou know'st I am an Hebrew, therefore tell Our law forbids at their religious rites
[them My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
OFF. This answer, be assured, will not content them.
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and ev'ry sort
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners,
Jugglers, and dancers, antics, mummers, mimics,
But they must pick me out, with shackles tired,
And over-labour'd at their public mill,
To make them sport with blind activity P
Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels
On my refusal to distress me more,
Or make a game
Return the way thou cam’st, I will not come.
OFF. Regard thyself, this will offend them highly.
Sams. Myself? my conscience and internal peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debased
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands ?
Although their drudge, to be their fool or jester,
And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To show them feats, and play before their god,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Join'd with extreme contempt? I will not come.
Off. My message was imposed on me with speed,
Brooks no delay. Is this thy resolution ?
SAMS. So take it with what speed thy message needs.
OFF. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
CHOR. Consider, Samson, matters now.are strain'd
Up to the height, whether to hold or break.
and who knows how he may report
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame ?
Expect another message more imperious,
More lordly thund'ring than thou well wilt bear.
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair
After my great transgression, so requite
Favour renew'd, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols;
A Nazarite in place abominable
Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon ?
Besides, how rile, contemptible, ridiculous,
What act more execrably unclean, profane?
CHOR. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the Philistines Idolatrous, uncircumcised, unclean.
Saus. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour
Honest and lawful to deserve my food
Of those who have me in their civil power.
CHOR. Where the heart joins not, outward acts deale not.
Says. Where outward force constrains, the sentence holds But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon, Not dragging? the Philistian lord 3 command, Commands are no constraints. If I obey them, I do it freely, vent'ring to displease God for the fear of man, and man prefer, Set God behind: which in His jealousy Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness. Yet that He may dispense with me or thee Present in temples at idolatrous rites For some important cause, thou need’st not doubt.
CHOR. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach.
Sams. Be of good courage, I begin to feel
Some rousing motions in me, which dispose
To something extraordinary my thoughts.
I with this messenger will go along,
Nothing to do, be sure, that may
Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarité.
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great act, or of my days the last.
CHOR. In time thou hast résolved, the man returns.
OFF. Samson, this second message from our lords
To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave,
Our captive, at the public mill our drudge,
And dar'st thou at our sending and command
Dispute thy coming P come without delay;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fasten'd than a rock.
Sams. I could be well content to try their art,
Which to no few of them would prove pernicious.
Yet knowing their advantages too many,
Because they shall not trail me through their streets
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.
Master's commands come with a power resistless
To such as owe them absolute subjection;
And for a life who will not change his purpose ?
So mutable are all the ways of men !
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our law.
OFF. I praise thy resolution: doff these links;
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and, perhaps, to set thee free.
Sams. Brethren, farewell; your company along
I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them
To see me girt with friends; and how the sight
Of me as of a common enemy,
So dreaded once, may now exasperate them
I know not. Lords are lordliest in their wine;
And the well-feasted priest then soonest fired
With zeal, if aught religion seem concern'd;
No less the people on their holy-days
Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable :
Happen what may, of me expect to hear
Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy
Our God, our law, my nation, or myself,
The last of me or no I cannot warrant.
CHOR. Go, and the Holy One
Of Israel be thy guide
To what may serve His glory best, and spread His name
Great among the heathen round;
Send thee the angel of thy birth, to stand
Fast by thy side, whọ from thy father's field
Rode up in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire; that spirit that first rush'd on thee
In the camp of Dan
Be efficacious in thee now at need.
For never was from heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wondrous actions hath been seen.
But wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste
With youthful steps ? much livelier than ere while
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?
Man. Peace with you, brethren! my inducement hither
Was not at present here to find my son,
By order of the lords new parted hence,
To come and play before them at their feast.
I heard all as I came, the city rings,
And numbers thither flock; I had no will,
Lest I should see him forced to things unseemly.
But that which moved my coming now was chiefly
To give ye part with me what hope I have
With good success to work his liberty.
Chor. That hope would much rejoice us to partake
With thee; say, reverend Sire, we thirst to hear.
Man. I bave attempted one by one the lords
Either at home or through the high street passing,
With supplication prone and father's tears,
To accept of ransom for my son their pris’ner.
Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh,
Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite;
That part most reverenced Dagon and his priests:
Others more moderate seeming, but their aim
Private reward, for which both God and State
They easily would set to sale : third
More generous far and civil, who confess'd
They had enough revenged, having reduced
Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
The rest was magnanimity to remit,
If some convenient ransom were proposed.
What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky.
Cuor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Their once great dread, captive and blind before them,
Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
Man. His ransom,
May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And number'd down: much rather I shall choose
To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest,
And he in that calamitous prison left.
No, I am fix'd not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forego
And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing.
CHOR. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons,
Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all :
Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age,
Thou in old age carest how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eyesight lost.
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
And view him sitting in the house, ennobled,
With all those high exploits by him achieved,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks,
That of a nation arm’d the strength contain'd:
And I persuade me God hath not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrison'd round about him like a camp
Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose
To use him further yet in some great service,
Not to sit idle with so great a gift
Useless, and thence ridiculous, about him.
And since his strength with eyesight was not lost,
God will restore him eyesight to his strength.
CHOR. Thy hopes are not ill founded nor seem vain
Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
Conceived, agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate.
Man. I know your friendly minds, and–0 what noise !
Mercy of heav'n, what hideous noise was that?
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
CHOR. Noise call
it or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perish'd !
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise :