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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 prisoner Samson here I seek.
Chor. His manacles remark him; there he sits.

Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say: 1310
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 heartened and fresh clad,
To appear as fits before the illustrious lords.

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
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners,
Jugglers and dancers, antics, mummers, mimics,
But they must pick me out, with shackles tired,
And over-laboured at their public mill,
To make them sport with blind activity ?
Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels,
On my refusal, to distress me more,

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.
Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.

Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now are strained
Up to the highth, whether to hold or break.
He's
gone,

and who knows how he may report 1350
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message, more imperious,
More lordly thundering 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 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
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 1391
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;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fastened than a rock.

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

up

in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire; that Spirit that first rushed 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.

1440
But wherefore comes old Manoa in such haste
With youthful steps? Much livelier than erewhile
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,

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
With thee. Say, reverend sire; we thirst to hear.

Man. I have 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 prisoner.
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 confessed
They had enough revenged, having reduced
Their foe to misery beneath their fears;
The rest was magnanimity to remit,

1470

1460

If some convenient ransom were proposed.
What noise or shout was that? It tore the sky.

Chor. 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 numbered down. Much rather I shall choose
To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest
And he in that calamitous prison left.

1480
No, I am fixed not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forgo
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 carst how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eye-sight lost.

Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes, 1490
And view him sitting in his house, ennobled
With all those high exploits by him achieved,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks
That of a nation armed the strength contained.
And I persuade me God hath not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair
Garrisoned 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

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,

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