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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,

The work to which 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 snare.
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 (O weak-

Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.

Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy country's enemy,

Thou never wast amiss, I bear thee witness:
Yet Israël still serves with all his sons.

Sams. That fault I take not on me, but transfer

On Israel's governors and heads of tribes,

Who, seeing those great acts which God had done
Singly by me against their conquerors,

Acknowledged not, or not at all consider'd,
Deliverance offer'd: I on the other side
Used no ambition to commend my deeds;
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the

But they persisted deaf, and would not seem
To count them things worth notice, till at length
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.
Meanwhile the men of Judah, 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,

Bound with two cords; but cords to me were


Touch'd with the flame: on their whole host I flew
Unarm'd, and with a trivial weapon fell'd

Their choicest youth; they only lived who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe,
They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath,
And lorded over them whom they now serve;
But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect,
Whom God hath of his special favour raised
As their deliverer? if he aught begin,
How frequent to desert him, and at last
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds!
Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
How Succoth and the fort of Penuel

Their great deliverer contemn'd,
The matchless Gideon, in pursuit

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Of Madian, and her vanquish'd kings:
And how ingrateful Ephraim

Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Not worse than by his shield and spear,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quell'd their pride
In that sore battle, when so many died
Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.

Sams. Of such examples add me to the roll;

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:

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.

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, But never find self-satisfying solution.

As if they would confine the Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,

Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right to exempt

Whom so it pleases him by choice

From national obstriction, without taint
Of sin, or legal debt;

For with his own laws he can best dispense.

He would not else, who never wanted means,

Nor in respect of the 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,

Unclean, unchaste.

Down, reason, then; at least, vain reasonings, down ;

Though reason here aver,

That moral verdict quits her of unclean :
Unchaste was subsequent; her stain, not his.
But see, here comes thy reverend sire
With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoah: advise

Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
Sams. Ay me! another inward grief, awaked
With mention of that name, renews the assault.

Enter Manoah.

Man. Brethren, and men of Dan, for such ye


Though in this uncouth place; if old respect,

As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend, My son now captive, hither hath inform'd

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,
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 combatant
Duell'd their armies rank'd in proud array,
Himself an army, now unequal match
To save himself against a coward arm'd
At one spear's length? O ever-failing trust
In mortal strength! and oh! what not in man
Deceivable and vain? Nay, what thing good
Pray'd for, but often proves 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?
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?
For this did the 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
Ensnared, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
Thy foe's 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
Subject him to so foul indignities,

Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.

Sams. Appoint not heavenly disposition, father;

Nothing of all these evils hath befallen me
But justly; I myself have brought them on,
Sole author I, sole cause; if aught seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who have profaned
The mystery of God given me under pledge
Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.

This well I knew, nor was at all surprised,
But warn'd by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal

The secret wrested from me in her highth
Of nuptial love profess'd, carrying it straight
To them who had corrupted her, my spies,
And rivals? In this other was there found
More faith, who also in her prime of love,
Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,

Though offer'd only, by the scent conceived
Her spurious first-born, treason against me?
Thrice she assay'd with flattering prayers and sighs,
And amorous reproaches, to win from me

My capital secret; in what part my strength
Lay stored, in what part summ'd, that she might

Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly, and with what impudence
She purposed to betray me (which was worse
Than undissembled hate), with what contempt
She sought to make me traitor to myself;
Yet the fourth time, when, mustering all her wiles,
With blandish'd parleys, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceased not day nor night
To storm me over-watch'd, and wearied out,
At times when men seek most repose and rest,
I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart,
Who, with a grain of manhood well resolved,
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yoked
Her bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
To honour and religion! servile mind

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