Page images
PDF
EPUB

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: a 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, if my whole inheritance
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 song,
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 losto

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 nuisai
Mercy of hear'n, what hideous noise was that ?
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.

CHOR. Noise call you 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 :

Oh, it continues, they have slain my son.

Chor. Thy son is rather slaying them, that outcry From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.

Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be;
What shall we do, stay here, or run and see ?

CHOR. Best keep together here, lest running thither
We unawares run into danger's mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fall’n;
From whom could else a general cry be heard P
The sufferers then will scarce molest us here,
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if his eyesight, for to Israel's GOD
Nothing is hard, by miracle restored,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,
And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way?

Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thonghte

Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible
For his people of old; what hinders now?

Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think He will;
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief.
A little stay will bring some notice'hither.

CHOR. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooners
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.

MESS. O whither shall I run, or which way fly
The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold P
For dire imagination still pursues me.
But providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason though disturb'd, and scarce consulted,
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror,
So in the sad event too much concern'd.

Man. The accident was loud, and here before then
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not;
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.

Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath

1

And sense distract, to know well what I utter.

Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.

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 surfeito
Man. Relate by whom.
Mess. By Samson.

Man. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.

MESS. Ah! Manoah, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy agèd ear should pierce too deep.

Man. Suspense in news is toiture, speak them out.
Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.

Man. The worst indeed. O! all my hopes defeated
To free him hence ! 'but death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceived
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.
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he ?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?

MESS. Unwounded ot his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how P explain.
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,

[ocr errors]

More than enough we know; but, while things get
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 rumonr'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
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 unirth, high cheer, and wine,
When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their stato 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 performid
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,

I Men and horses in armuur.

« PreviousContinue »