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Counsel or consolation we may bring,
Salve to thy sores; apt words have
The tumours of a troubled mind,
And are as balm to fester'd wounds.
Sams. 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
I would be understood); in prosp❜rous days
They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their heads,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends,
How many evils have enclos'd me round:
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness; for had I sight, confus'd with shame,
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,
Fool! have divulg'd 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?
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 deceiv'd;
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
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather
Than of thy own tribe fairer, or as fair,*
At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed
The daughter of an infidel: they knew not
That what I motion'd was of God; I knew
From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd
The marriage on; that by occasion hence
I might begin Israel's deliverance,
The work to which I was divinely call'd.
She proving false, the next I took to wife
(0 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 peel of words (O weakness!)
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 remiss, I bear thee witness :
Yet Israel 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, Acknowledg'd not, or not at all consider'd Deliverance offer'd. I on th' other side Us'd 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 retir'd, Not flying, but fore-casting in what place To set upon them, what advantag'd best. Meanwhile the men of Judah, to prevent The harrass 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 threads 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 liv'd 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 rais'd
As their deliverer; if he ought 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
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 adjudg'd 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 propos'd 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 their 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 wand'ring thought, Regardless of his glory's diminution; Till by their own perplexities involv'd They ravel more, still less resolv'd,..
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th' Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And bath full right t' 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 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,
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 awak'd 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 gloried friend, My son now captive, hither hatlı 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 ob! what not in man
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?
O wherefore did God grant me my request,
And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd?
Why are his gifts desireable, to tempt
Our earnest prayers, then, given with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind!
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 a hour
Insnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
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
Subject him to such 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 profan'd
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 surpris'd,
But warn'd by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her height
Qf nuptial love profess'd, carrying it straight