Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

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? ere long thou shalt lament
These braveries in irons loaden on thee.

Chor. His giantship is gone somewhat crestfalling
Stalking with less unconscionable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chase.

Sams. 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 malicious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.

Sams. 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 than 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 their end
Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Draw their own ruin who attempt the deed.

Chor. Oh, how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppress'd !
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the earth, th' oppressor,
The brute and boist'rous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue

1 Another deity of the Philistines and Sidonians. The “Venus" of the East, or, It is thought, the Moon.

The righteous, and all such as honour truths
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats,
With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour armid,
Their armories and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With wingèd expedition,
Swift as the light’ning glance, he executes
His errand on the wicked, who surprised
Lose their defence distracted and amazed,

But patience is more oft the exercise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Making them each his own deliverer,
And victor over all
That tyranny of fortune can inflict:
Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endued
Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved
May chance to number thee with those
Whom patience finally must crown.

This idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest
Labouring thy mind
More than the working day thy hands.
And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
For I descry this way
Some other tending, in his hand
A sceptre 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. Hebrews, the pris'ner Samson here I seek. Chor. His manacles remark him, there ne 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 hearten'd and fresh clad.
To 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 of my calamities ? 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

mry

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 P 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,

Cuor. Consider, Samson, matters now are strain'd
Up to the height, whether to hold 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 than thou well wilt bear.

Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair

[ocr errors]

After my great transgression, so requite
Favoir 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.

Sams. 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 defile not.

Sams. Where outuvard force constrains, the sentence holds But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon, Not dragging P the Philistian lords 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 forgivene 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 reache

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 dishonour
Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
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 resolved, 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 ? come without delay;

nes8.

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

Cuor. Go, and the Holy One
Of Israel be thy guide
To what may serve His glory best, and spread His namo
Great among the heathen round;
Send thee the angel of thy birth, to stand
Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field
Rode up in flanies after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire; that spirit that first rush'd on theo

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »