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Though not disordinate, yet causeless suffering
The punishment of dissolute days: in fine,
Just or unjust, alike seem miserable,
For oft alike both come to evil end.
So deal not with this once thy glorious champion,
The image of thy strength, and mighty minister.
What do I beg ? how hast thou dealt already?
Behold him in this state calamitous, and turn
His labours, for thou canst, to peaceful end.
But who is this, what thing of sea or land ? 716
Female of sex it seems,
That, so bedeck’d, ornate, and gay,
Comes this way, sailing
Like a stately ship
Of Tarsus, bound for the isles
Of Javan or Gadire,
With all her bravery on, and tackle trim,
Sails fill’d, and streamers waving,
Courted by all the winds that hold them play,
An amber scent of odorous perfume
Her harbinger, a damsel train behind :
Some rich Philistian matron she may seem;
And now at nearer view, no other certain
Than Dalila thy wife.
[me. Sams. My wife! my traitress! let her not come near
Cho. Yet on she moves, now stands and eyesthee, fix'd, About to have spoke; but now, with head declined, Like a fair flower surcharged with dew, she weeps, And words address'd seem into tears dissolved, , Wetting the borders of her silken veil: But now again she makes address to speak.
Dal. With doubtful feet and wavering resolution
I came, still dreading thy displeasure, Samson;
Which to have merited, without excuse,
I cannot but acknowledge; yet, if tears
May expiate (though the fact more evil drew
In the perverse event than I foresaw),
My penance hath not slacken’d, though my pardon
No way assured. But conjugal affection,
Prevailing over fear and timorous doubt,
Hath led me on, desirous to behold
Once more thy face, and know of thy estate,
If aught in my ability may serve
Thy mind with what amends is in my power,
Though late, yet in some part to recompense
My rash but more unfortunate misdeed.
Sams. Out, out, hyæna! these are thy wonted arts,
And arts of every woman false like thee,
To break all faith, all vows, deceive, betray, 750
Then, as repentant, to submit, beseech,
And reconcilement move with feign'd remorse,
Confess, and promise wonders in her change;
Not truly penitent, but chief to try
Her husband, how far urged his patience bears,
His virtue or weakness which way to assail :
Then with more cautious and instructed skill
Again transgresses, and again submits;
That wisest and best men, full oft beguiled,
With goodness principled not to reject 760
The penitent, but ever to forgive,
Are drawn to wear out miserable days,
Entangled with a poisonous bosom snake,
If not by quick destruction soon cut off,
As I by thee, to ages an example.
Dal. Yet hear me, Samson; not that I endeavour
To lessen or extenuate my offence; .
But that, on the other side, if it be weigh'd
By itself, with aggravations not surcharged,
Or else with just allowance counterpoised, 770
I may, if possible, thy pardon find
The easier towards me, or thy hatred less.
First granting, as I do, it was a weakness
In me, but incident to all our sex,
Curiosity, inquisitive, importune
Of secrets, then with like infirmity
To publish them, both common female faults :)
Was it not weakness also to make known
For importunity, that is, for naught,
Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety ? 780
To what I did thou show'dst me first the way.)
But I to enemies reveal'd, and should not:
Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to woman's frailty:
Ere I to thee, thou to thyself wast cruel.
Let weakness, then, with weakness come to parle,
So near related, or the same of kind,
Thine forgive mine ; that men may censure thine
The gentler, if severely thou exact not
More strength from me than in thyself was found.
And what if love, which thou interpret’st hate, 790
The jealousy of love, powerful of sway
In human hearts, nor less in mine towards thee,
„Caused what I did ? I saw thee mutable
w of fancy, fear'd lest one day thou wouldst leave me
y As her at Timna, sought by all means, therefore,
How to endear, and hold thee to me firmest;
No better way I saw than by importuning
To learn thy secrets, get into my power
Thy key of strength and safety. Thou wilt say,
Why, then, reveal’d? I was assured by those : 800
Who tempted me, that nothing was design'd
Against thee but safe custody, and hold:
That made for me; I knew that liberty
Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises,
While I at home sat, full of cares and fears,
Wailing thy absence in my widow'd bed;
Here I should still enjoy thee, day and night,
Mine and love's prisoner, not the Philistines',
Whole to myself, unhazarded abroad,
Fearless at home of partners in my love.
These reasons in love's law have pass’d for good,
Though fond and reasonless to some, perhaps :
And love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much woe,
Yet always pity or pardon hath obtained.
Be not unlike all others, not austere
As thoù art strong, inflexible as steel.
If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed,
In uncompassionate anger do not so.
Sams. How cunningly the sorceress displays
Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine! 820
That malice, not repentance, brought thee hither,
By this appears: I gave, thou say’st, the example,
I led the way ; bitter reproach, but true;
I to myself was false, ere thou to me:
Such pardon, therefore, as I give my folly,
Take to thy wicked deed; which when thou seest
Impartial, self-severe, inexorable,
Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather
Confess it feign'd. (Weakness is thy excuse,
And I believe it; weakness to resist
830 Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse, What murderer, what traitor, parricide, Incestuous, sacrilegious, but may plead it ? All wickedness is weakness : that plea, therefore,
With God or man, will gain thee no remission.
But love constrain’d thee; call it furious rage
To satisfy thy lust: love seeks to have love;
My love how couldst thou hope, who took’st the way
To raise in me inexpiable hate,
Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray'd ? 840
In vain thou strivest to cover shame with shame,
Or by evasions thy crime uncover'st more.
Dal. Since thou determinest weakness for no plea
In man or woman, though to thy own condemning, .
Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides,
What sieges girt me round, ere I consented;
Which might have awed the best-resolved of men,
The constantest, to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou lay'st,
That wrought with me: thou know'st the magistrates
And princes of my country came in person, 851
Solicited, commanded, threaten’d, urged,
Adjured, by all the bonds of civil duty
And of religion, press’d how just it was,
How honourable, how glorious, to entrap
A common enemy, who had destroy'd
Such numbers of our nation : and the priest
Was not behind, but, ever at my ear,
Preaching how meritorious with the gods
It would be to ensnare an irreligious
Dishonourer of Dagon: what had I
To oppose against such powerful arguments ?
Only my love of thee held long debate,
And combated in silence all these reasons
With hard contest : at length, that grounded maxim,
So rife and celebrated in the mouths
Of wisest men, that to the public good
Private respects must yield, with grave authority