Page images

MAN. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise : Oh it continues, they have flain my fon.

CHO. Thy fon is rather flaying them, that outcry From flaughter of one foe could not afcend.

MAN. Some difmal accident it needs must be; What fhall we do? ftay here, or run and fee?


CHO. Best keep together here, left running thither We unawares run into danger's mouth.

This evil on the Philiftines is fall'n;

From whom could elfe a general cry be heard?
The fufferers then will scarce moleft us here,
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if, his eye-fight (for to Ifrael's God
Nothing is hard) by miracle restor'd,

He now be dealing dole among his foes,

And over heaps of flaughter'd walk his way?



MAN. That were a joy prefumptuous 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 fo great, of bad the fooner; For evil news rides poft, while good news baits. And to our wifh I fee one hither speeding,


An Hebrew, as I guefs, and of our tribe.
MESS. O whither fhall I run, or which way fly
The fight of this fo horrid spectacle,

Which erft my eyes beheld, and yet behold?
For dire imagination ftill purfues me.


But providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason though disturb'd, and scarce confulted,
To' have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee firft, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror,
So in the fad 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 feest we long to know. MESS. It would burst forth, but I recover breath And fenfe diftract, to know well what I utter.

MAN. Tell us the fum, the circumstance defer. MESS. Gaza yet stands, but all her fons are fall'n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall'n.

MAN. Sad, but thou know'ft to Ifraelites not faddeft, The defolation of a hostile city. [furfeit. MESS. Feed on that first, there may in grief be MAN. Relate by whom.

[blocks in formation]

The forrow, and converts it nigh to joy.

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

MAN. Sufpenfe in news is torture, speak them out. MESS. Take then the worst in brief, Samfon is dead. MAN. The worft indeed, O all my hopes defeated: To free him hence! but death who fets 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
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's froft!
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 fay'st, by whom fell he,



What glorious hand gave Samfon his death's wound? MESS. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.

MAN. Wearied with flaughter then, or how? explain. MESS. By his own hands.

MAN. Self-violence? what caufe

Brought him fo foon at variance with himself
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 laftly over-ftrong against thyself!



A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet

Are in confufion, give us if thou canst,

Eye-witness of what first or last was done,

Relation more particular and diftinct.


MESS. Occafions 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 Samfon

Samfon fhould be brought forth, to fhow the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I forrow'd at his captive state, but minded
Not to be abfent at that spectacle.

The building was a spacious theatre

Half-round on two main pillars vaulted high,
With feats where all the lords and each degree
Of fort, might fit in order to behold;
The other fide was open, where the throng


On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand;


I among thefe aloof obfcurely stood.

The feast and noon grew high, and facrifice

Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high chear, and wine, When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately

Was Samfon as a public servant brought,



In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each fide went armed guards,
Both horfe and foot, before him and behind
Archers and flingers, cataphracts and spears.
At fight of him, the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamoring their God with praife,
Who' had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient but undaunted where they led him,
Came to the place, and what was fet before him,
Which without help of eye might be affay'd,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he ftill perform'd
All with incredible, ftupendous force,

None daring to appear antagonist.


At length for intermiffion fake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested



(For fo from fuch as nearer ftood we heard)

As over-tir'd to let him lean a while

With both his arms on thofe two maffy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main fupport.

He unfufpicious led him; which when Samfon 1635
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or fome great matter in his mind revolv'd:

At last with head erect thus cry'd aloud,
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands impos'd 1640
I have perform'd, as reafon was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld:

Now of my own accord fuch other trial

I mean to show you of my ftrength, yet greater;
As with amaze fhall ftrike all who behold.
This utter'd, ftraining all his nerves he bow'd,
As with the force of winds and water pents,
When mountains tremble, thofe two maffy pillars
With horrible convulfion to and fro,


He tugg'd, he fhook, till down they came, and drew
The whole roof after them, with burst 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,


Met from all parts to folemnize this feaft.

Samfon with these immix'd, inevitably

Pull'd down the fame deftruction on himself;
The vulgar only fcap'd who stood without.

CHO. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious! 1660

« PreviousContinue »