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The dungeon of thyself; thy soul
165 The rarer thy example stands, By how much from the top of wondrous glory, Strongest of mortal men, To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen. For him I reckon not in high estate
170 Whom long descent of birth Or the sphere of fortune raises ; But thee whose strength, while virtue was her
mate, Might have subdued the earth Universally crown'd with highest praises.
175 Sam. I hear the sounds of words; their sense
the air Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear. Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless
in might, The glory late of Israel, now the grief; We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitsul vale, 181 To visit or bewail thee; or, if better, Counsel or consolation we may bring, Salve to thy sores; apt words have power to swage The tumours of a troubled mind,
135 And are as balm to fester'd wounds. Sam. Your coming, friends, revives me, for I
learn Now of my own experience, not by talk, How counterfeit a coin they are who friends Bear in their superscription (of the most 190 I would be understood), in prosperous days They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head, Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends, How many evils have inclosed me round; Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me, Blindness, for had I sight, confused with shame, 196 How could I once look up, or heave the head, Who like a foolish pilot have shipwreck'd My vessel trusted to me from above, Gloriously rigg'd; and for a word, a tear, 200 Fool! have divulged the secret gift of God To a deceitful woman? Tell me, friends, Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool In every street? do they not say, How well Are come upon him his deserts ? yet why? 205 Immeasurable strength they might behold In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean; This with the other should at least have pair'd,
These two proportion'd ill drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal: wisest men Have err'd, and by bad women been deceived; And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise. Deject not then so overmuch thyself, Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides; Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder 215 Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair, At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sam. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleased Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed 220 The daughter of an infidel : they knew not That what I motion'd was of God; I knew From intimate impulse, and therefore urged The marriage on; that by occasion hence I might begin Israel's deliverance,
225 The work to which I was divinely call’d. She proving false, the next I took to wife (O that I never had ! fond wish too late) Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila, That specious monster, my accomplish'd
230 I thought it lawful from my former act, And the same end; still watching to oppress Israel's oppressors; of what now I suffer She was not the prime cause, but I myself, Who vanquish'd with a peal of words (0 weak
ness!) Gave up my fort of silence to a woman. 236
Chor. In secking just occasion to provoke The Philistine, thy country's enemy, Thou never wast remiss, I bear thee witness : Yet Israel still serves with all his sons. 240
Sam. That fault I take not on me, but transfer On Israel's governors, and heads of tribes, [done Who seeing those great acts, which God had Singly by me against their conquerors, Acknowledged not, or not at all consider'd
245 Deliverance offer'd: I on the other side Used no ambition to commend my deeds, The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud
the doer; But they persisted deaf, and would not seem To count them things worth notice, till at length
250 Their lords the Philistines with gather'd powers Enter'd Judea seeking me, who then Safe to the rock of Etham was retired, Not flying, but forecasting in what place To set upon them, what advantaged best: 255 Meanwhile the men of Judad, to prevent The harass of their land, beset me round; I willingly on some conditions came Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me To the uncircumcised a welcome prey, 260 Bound with two cords; but cords to me were threads
[flew Touch'd with the flame; on their whole host-I Unarm’d, and with a trivial weapon fellid Their choicest youth ; they only lived who fled. Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, 265
181. Eshtaol and Zora, two towns belonging to the tribe of Dan.
Josh, xix. 41. Judg. xiii. 2. 25. Josh. xv. 33.
They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath,
Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
Sam. Of such examples add me to the roll, 290 Me easily indeed mine may neglect, But God's proposed deliverance not so.
Chor. Just are the ways of God, And justifiable to men ; Unless there be who think not God at all; 295 If any be, they walk obscure ; For of such doctrine never was there school, But the heart of the fool, And no man therein doctor but himself. 299
Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, As to his own edicts found contradicting, Then give the reins to wandering thought, Regardless of his glory's diminution; Till by their own perplexities involved They ravel more, still less resolved,
305 But never find self satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th? Interminable,
He would not else, who never wanted means, 315 Nor in respect of th' enemy just cause To set his people free, Have prompted this heroic Nazarite, Against his vow of strictest purity, To seek in marriage that fallacious bride, 320 Unclean, unchaste. Down reason then, at least vain reasonings
Though reason here aver
But see, here comes thy reverend sire
Sam. Ay me, another inward grief awaked 330 With mention of that name renews th' assault. Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye
seem, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, As I suppose, towards your once glory'd friend, My son now captive, hither hath inform’d 335 Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age Came lagging after ; say if he be here?
Chor. As signal now in low dejected state, As erst in highest, behold him where he lies.
Man. O miserable change! is this the man, 340 That invincible Samson, far renown'd, The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength Equivalent to angels walk'd their streets, None offering fight; who single combatatit Duell'd their armies rank'd in proud array,
345 Himself an army, now unequal match To save himself against a coward arm’d At one spear's length? O ever-failing trust, Immortal strength! and oh what not in man 349 Deceivable and vain? Nay, what thing good Pray'd for. but often proves our woe, our Bane ? I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness In wedlock a reproach; I gain'd a son, And such a son as all men hail'd me happy; Who would be now a father in my stead? 355 O wherefore did God grant me my request, And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd ? Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt Our earnest prayers, then, given with solemn
hand As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? 360 For this did th' angel twice descend? for this Ordain'd thy nurture holy as of a plant Select, and sacred, glorious for a while, The miracle of men; then in an hour Insnared, assaulted, overcome, led bound, 365 Thy foes' derision, captive, poor and blind, Into a dungeon thrust. to work with slaves ? Alas, methinks whom God hath chosen once To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err, He should not so o'erwhelm, and as a thrall 370 Subject him to so foul indignities Be' it but for honour's sake of former deeds.
Sam. Appoint not heav'nly disposition, Father : Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me But justly; I myself have brought them on, 375 Sole author I, sole cause: if aught seem vile, As vile hath been my folly, who have profaned The mystery of God giv'n me under pledge Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman, A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.
380 359, Luke xi. 12. 373. Appoint, arraign or summon to answor.
down, 298. Ps. xiv. I.
319. Samson's vow as a Nazarite, obliged him to the most perfect observance of the whole Mosaical law, which he broke by his marriage with a Gentile wo
This well I knew, nor was at all surprised, Thee, Samson, bound and blind into their hands, But warn’d by oft experience : did not she Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
slain. The secret wrested from me in her highth
So Dagon shall be magnified, and God, 440 Of nuptial love profess’d, carrying it straight 385 Besides whom is no god, compared with idols To them who had corrupted her, my spies, Disglorified, blasphemed, and had in scorn And rivals? In this other was there found
By the idolatrous rout amidst their wine ; More faith, who also in her prime of love, i Which to have come to pass by means of thee, Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,
Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, Though offer'd only, by the scent conceived 390 Of all reproach the most with shame that ever Her spurious first-born, treason against me ? Could have befallen thee and thy father's house. Thrice she assay'd with flattering pray’rs and Sam. Father, I do acknowledge and confess sighs,
That I this honour, I this pomp, have brought And amorous reproaches, to wir from me To Dagon, and advanced his praises high 450 My capital secret, in what part my strength Among the Heathen 'round; to God have brought Lay stored, in what part summ'd, that she might Dishonour, obloquy, and oped the mouths know;
Of idolists, and atheists ; have brought scandal Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport 396 To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt Her importunity, each time perceiving
In feeble hearts, propense enough before 455 How openly, and with what impudence
To waver, or fall off and join with idols ; She purposed to betray me, and (which was Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow,
The anguish of my soul, that suffers not Than undissembled hate) with what contempt Mine eye to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest. She sought to make me traitor to myself; 401 This only hope relieves me, that the strife 460 Yet the fourth time, when mustring all her With me hath end; all the contest is now wiles,
"Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presumed, With blandish'd parleys, feminine assaults, Me overthrown, to enter lists with God, Tongue-batteries, she surceased not day nor night His deity comparing and preferring To storm me over-watch'd, and weary'd out, 405 Before the God of Abraham. He, be sure, 465 At times when men seek most repose and rest, Will not connive, or linger, thus provoked, I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart,
But will arise and his great name assert : Who with a grain of manhood well resolved Dagon must stoop, and shall ere long receive Might easily have shook off all her snares ; Such a discomfit, as shall quite despoil him But foul effeminacy held me yoked
Of all these boasted trophies won on me,
470 Her bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
And with confusion blank his worshippers. To honour and religion ! servile mind
Man. With cause this hope relieves thee, and Rewarded well with servile punishment !
these words, The base degree to which I now am fallen, I as a prophecy receive; for God, These
rags, this grinding is not yet so base 415 Nothing more certain, will not long defer As was my former servitude ignoble,
To vindicate the glory of his name
475 Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,
Against all competition, nor will long True slavery, and that blindness worse than this, Eudure it doubtful whether God be Lord, That saw not how degenerately I served. 419 Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done? Man. I cannot praise thy marriage choices, Thou must not in the meanwhile here forgot Son,
Lie in this miserable loathsome plight 480 Rather approved them not; but thou didst plead Neglected. I already have made way Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st To some Philistian lords, with whom to treat Find some occasion to infest our foes.
About thy ransom : well they may by this I state not that; this I am sure, our foes
Have satisfied their utmost of revenge Found soon occasion thereby to make thee 425 By pains and slaveries, worse than death inflicted Their captive, and their triumph; thou the sooner On thee, who now no more canst do them harm. 486 Temptation found'st, or over-potent charms
Sam. Spare that proposal, Father, spare the To violate the sacred trust of silence
How heinous had the fact been, how deserving Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim
435 Contempt, and scorn of all, to be excluded Great pomp and sacrifice, and praises loud All friendship, and avoided as a blab, 495 To Dagon, as their god who hath deliver'd
The mark of iool set on his front? 13*
I drank, from the clear milky juice allaying 550 Thirst, and refresh'd; nor envy'd them the grape Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with
fumes. Chor. O madness, to think use of strongest
wines And strongest drinks our chief support of health, When God with these forbidden made choice to
But I God's counsel have not kept, his holy secret
Man. Be penitent and for thy fault contrite,
Sam. His pardon I implore; but as for life 521 To what end should I seek it? when in strength All mortals I excell'd, and great in hopes With youthful courage and magnanimous thoughts Of birth from Heav'n foretold and high exploits, Full of divine instinct, after some proof 526 Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond The sons of Anak, famous now and blazed, Fearless of danger, like a petty god, I walk'd about admired of all, and dreaded 530 On hostile ground, none daring my affront. Then swollen with pride into the snare I fell Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains, Soften’d with pleasure and voluptuous life; At length to lay my head and hallow'd pledge 535 Of all my strength in the lascivious lap Of a deceitful concubine, who shore me Like a tame wether, all my precious fleece, Then turn'd me out ridiculous, despoil'd, Shaven and disarm'd among mine enemies. 540
Chor. Desire of wine and all delicious drinke, Which many a famous warrior overturns, Thou couldst repress, nor did the dancing ruby Sparkling, out-pour'd, the flavour, or the
smell, Or taste that cheers the heart of gods and men, Allure thee from the cool crystalline stream. 546
Sam. Wherever fountain or fresh current flow'd Against the eastern ray, translucent, pure With touch ethereal of Heav'n's fiery rod,
500. The allusion is to the story of Tantalus, who it is said revealed the secrets of the gods, and was for that condemned to punishment in the infernal regions. 538. Of is to be understood before all, &c.
541. Allusion is here made to the strictness of living imposed by the Nazarite's vow, which Samson kept in all respects, but in his marriage with a strange woman.
545. Judges ix. 13. Gods here means the false gods of the heathen cities, or the conquerors and great men, so called in honour of their famous deeds.
His mighty champion, strong above compare, 556
quellid, To what can I be useful, wherein serve My nation, and the work from Heav'n imposed, But to sit idle on the household hearth, 566 A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze, Or pitied object, these redundant locks Robustious to no purpose clust'ring down, Vain monument of strength; till length of years And sedentary numbness craze my limbs 271 To a contemptible old age obscure ? Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread, Till vermin, or the draff of servile food, Consume me,
and oft-invocated death 575 Hasten the welcome end of all my pains. Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with
that gift Which was expressly given thee to annoy them Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle, Inglorious, unemploy'd, with age out-wom. 580 But God, who caused a fountain at thy prayer From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay After the brunt of battle, can as easy Cause light again within thy eyes to spring, Wherewith to serve him better than thou hast; And I persuade me so; why else this strength Miraculous yet remaining in those locks ? 587 His might continues in thee not for nought, Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.
Sam. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend, That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light,
591 Nor th' other light of life continue long, But yield to double darkness nigh at hand : So much I feel my genial spirits droop: My hopes all flat, Nature within me seems 595 In all her functions weary of herself,
571. Craze, so used Par. Lost, xii. 210.
281. There is a difference between this account of the fountain which rose in answer to Samson's prayer, and that which is given in our translation of the Scripo ture. In the latter, it is said the water sprang from tho cleft jaw, but by most of the commentators it is said, that as the word translated jaw is the proper name of a spot of ground, it should not in this place be translated in the sense given in our version.
My race of glory run, and race of shame,
Sam. O that torment should not be confined To the body's wounds and sores,
607 With maladies innumerable In heart, head, breast and reins; But must secret passage find
My griefs not only pain me
stings Mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts, Exasperate, exulcerate, and raise
To death's benumbing opium as my only cure: 630
I was his nursling once and choice delight,
636 Abstemious I grew up and thrived amain ; He led me on to mightiest deeds Above the nerve of mortal arm Against th’ uncircumcised, our enemies : 640 But now hath cast me off as never known, And to those cruel enemies, Whom I by his appointinent had provoked, Left me all helpless with th' irreparable loss Of sight, reserved alive to be repeated 645 The subject of their cruelty or scorn. Nor am I in the list of them that hope ; Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless; This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, No long petition, speedy death,
650 The close of all my miseries, and the balm.
Chor. Many are the sayings of the wise In ancient and in modern books inroll d, Extolling patience as the truest fortitude :
628. Alp, here used as a general name for moun(ains : seo also Par. Lost, ii. 628.
And to the bearing well of all calamities,
God of our Fathers! what is man, That thou towards him with hand so various, Or might I say contrarious, Temper'st thy providence through his short course, Not evenly, as thou rul'st
671 Th' angelic orders and inferior creatures mute, Irrational and brute ? Nor do I name of men the common rout, That, wand'ring loose about,
675 Grow up and perish as the summer fly, Heads without name no more rememberd; But such as thou hast solemnly elected, With gifts and graces eminently adorn'd To some great work, thy glory,
680 And people's safety, which in part they effect: Yet toward these thus dignified, thou oft Amidst their highth of noon Changest thy countnance, and thy hand with no
regard Of highest favours past From thee on them, or them to thee of service. 686 Nor only dost degrade them, or remit To life obscured, which were a fair dismission, But throw'st them lower than thou didst exalt
them high, Unseemly falls in human eye, Too grievous for the trespass or omission; 691 Oft leavest them to the hostile sword Of Heathen and profane, their carcases To dogs and fowls a prey, or else captived; Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times, And condemnation of th' ungrateful multitude. 696 If these they 'scape, perhaps in poverty With sickness and disease thou bow'st them
down, Painful diseases and deform'd, In crude old age :
700 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
705 The image of thy strength, and mighty minister. What do I beg ? how hast thou dealt already?
658 Fraught is proposed by Warburton, instead of sought.
661. Eccles. xxii. 6. 700. Crude, premature.