Page images

Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise : Oh it continues, they have llain my son.

Cho. Thy son is rather saying them, that outcry From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.

MAN. Some dismal accident it needs must be; What shall we do? Itay here, or run and see? 1520

Cho. Best keep together here, left running thither We unawares run into danger's mouth, This evil on the Philistines is fall’n; From whom could elfe a general cry be heard ? The sufferers then will scarce moleft us here, 1525 From other hands we need not much to fear. What if, his eye-light (for to Ifrael's God Nothing is hard) by miracle restor'd, He now be dealing dole among his foes, And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way ? 1530

Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.

Cho. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible For his people of old; what hinders now?

Man. He can I know, but doubt to think he will; Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief. 1535 A little stay will bring fome notice hither.

Cho. Of, good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe. 154

Mess. O whither fhall I run, or which way fly
The fight of this fo horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold?
For dire imagination ftill pursues me.


But providence or instinct of nature seems, 1545
Or reason though disturb’d, and scarce consulted,
To' have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror, 1550
So in the sad event too much concern'd.

MAN. The accident was loud, and here before thee
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not;
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.

Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath And sense distract, to know well what I utter.

Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.

Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fall'n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall’n.

MAN. Sad, but thou know'st to Ifraelites not saddest, The desolation of a hostile city.

Mess. Feed on that first, there may in grief be
Man. Relate by whom.
Miss. By Samson.

Man. That still leffens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.

Mess. Ah Manoah, I refrain too suddenly 1565
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Left evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.

MAN. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out. Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.

MAN. The worst indeed, O all my hopes defeated: To free him hence! but death who sets all free


Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves 1575
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost!
Yet, ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How dy'd he; death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he, 1580
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?

Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? explain.
Mess. By his own hands.

Man. Self-violence? what caufe
Brought him so soon at variance with himself

1585 Among his foes ?

Mess. Inevitable cause,
At once both to destroy and be destroy'd;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull’d.

Man. O lastly over-strong against thyself! 1590
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.

1595 Mess. Occasions drew me early to this city, And as the gates I enter'd with sun-rise, The morning trumpets festival proclam’d Through each high-street: little I had dispatch'd, When all abroad was rumor'd that this day 1600


Samson should be brought forth, to show the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre

Half-round on two main pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the lords and each degree
Of fort, might fit in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand; 1610

among these aloof obscurely stood. The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high chear, and wine, When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately Was Samson as a public servant brought, In their state livery clad; before him pipes And timbrels, on each side went armed guards, Both horse and foot, before him and behind Archers and Ningers, cataphracts and spears. At sight of him, the people with a shout 1620 Rifted the air, clamoring their God with praise, Who' had made their dreadful enemy their thrall. He patient but undaunted where they led him, Came to the place, and what was set before him, Which without help of eye might be assay'd, 1625 To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd All with incredible, stupendous force, None daring to appear antagonist. At length for intermission fake they led him Between the pillars; he his guide requested 1630



And eyes

(For fo from such as nearer ftood we heard)
As over-tir'd to let him lean a while
With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main fupport.
He unsuspicious led him ; which when Samson 1635
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd,

fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd :
At last with head erect thus cry'd aloud,
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands impos’d 1649
I have perform'd, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld:
Now of any own accord such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater ;
As with amaze thall strike all who behold. 1645
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd,
As with the force of winds and water pents,
When mountains tremble, thofe two massy pillars
With horrible convulfion to and fro,
He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them, with burit of thunder
Upon the heads of all who fat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
of this but each Philiftian city round,

1655 Met from all parts to folemnize this feast. Samson with these immix’d, inevitably Pullid down the same destruction on himself; The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.

Cho. O dearly bought reverge, yet glorious! 1660

« PreviousContinue »