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HARAPHA of Gath.
The scene before the prison in Gaza.
Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the prison of Gaza,
there to labour as in a common workhouse, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit awhile and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old father Manoah, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistine lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a public offi. cer, to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the public oficer with absolute denial to come; at length, persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatenings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's deliverance: in the midst of which discourse a Hebrexo comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterwards more distinctly, relating the catcstrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself, wherewith the tragedy ends.
SAMSON (Attendant leading him).
A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand To these dark steps, a little farther on; For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: There I am wont to sit, when any chance Relieves me from task of servile toil, Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw The air, imprison'd also; close and damp, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.This day a solemn feast the people hold To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid Laborious works; unwillingly this rest Their superstition yields me; hence, with leave, Retiring from the popular noise, I seek This unfrequented place to find some ease; Ease to my body some, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm Of hornets arm’d, no sooner
But rush upon me, thronging, and present
O impotence of mind, in body strong! But what is strength without a double share Of wisdom? vast, unwieldy, burdensome, Proudly secure, yet liable to fall, By weakest subtleties; not made to rule, But to subserve where wisdom bears command! God, when he gave me strength, to show withal How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. But
peace; I must not quarrel with the will Of highest dispensation, which herein Haply had ends above my reach to know: Suffices that to me strength is my bane, And proves the source of all my miseries; So many, and so huge, that each apart Would ask a life to wail; but chief of all, O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies, 0 worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, And all her various objects of delight Annull’d, which might in part my grief have Inferior to the vilest now become
(eased, Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me: They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Within doors, or without, still as a fool, In power of others, never in my own; Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of moon, Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse, Without all hope of day!
O first created beam, and thou great Word, “Let there be light, and light was over all;" Why am I thus bereaved my prime decree? The sun to me is dark, and silent as the moon, When she deserts the night, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. Since light so necessary is to life, And almost life itself, if it be true That light is in the soul, She all in every part; why was the sight To such a tender ball as the eye confined, So obvious and so easy to be quench'd? And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus’d, That she might look at will through every pore? Then had I not been thus exiled from light, As in the land of darkness, yet in light, To live a life half dead, a living death, And buried; but, O yet more miserable! Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave; Buried, yet not exempt, By privilege of death and burial, From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs; But made hereby obnoxious more To all the miseries of life, Life in captivity Among inhuman foes. But who are these? for with joint pace I hear The tread of
many feet steering this way; Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,