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Comes on amain, speed in his look.
Off. Ebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say: 1310
Sams. Thou know'st I am an Ebrew; therefore tell them Our law forbids at their religious rites
1320 My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Of. This answer, be assured, will not content them.
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every sort
1330 Or make a game of my calamities? Return the way thou cam'st; I will not come.
Of. 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- 1340 The worst of all indignities, yet on me Joined with supreme contempt! I will not come.
Of. 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.
Of. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now are strained
and who knows how he may report 1350
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift Of strength, again returning with my hair After my great transgression-so requite Favour renewed, and add a greater sin By prostituting holy things to idols, A Nazarite, in place abominable, Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon? 1360 Besides how vile, 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 outward force constrains, the sentence
holds: But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon, 1370 Not dragging? The Philistian lords command: Commands are no constraints. If I obey them, I do it freely, venturing 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. 1380
Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach.
Sams. Be of good courage; I begin to feel
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
Off. Samson, this second message from our lords 1391
Sams. I could be well content to try their art, Which to no few of them would prove pernicious; 1400 Yet, knowing their advantages too many, Because they shall not trail me through their streets Like a wild beast, I am content to go. Masters' 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. Of. I praise thy resolution. Doff these links:
1410 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 concerned; 1420 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;
1430 Send thee the Angel of thy birth, to stand Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field Rode
in flames after his message told
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,
1450 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
Man. I have attempted, one by one, the lords,
If some convenient ransom were proposed.
Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance
Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons;
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes, 1490
1500 Useless, and thence ridiculous, about him. And, since his strength with eye-sight was not lost, God will restore him eye-sight 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 Heaven! what hideous noise was that? Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
1510 Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan,