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THE ARGUMENT. Samson made captive, blind, and now in the prison at
Gaza, there to labor as in a common workhouse, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd, there to fit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can ; then by his old father Manoah, who endevors the like, and withal tells him his last purpose to procure his liberty by ransom ; lastly, that this feast was proclam'd by the Philistines as a day of thanks. giving for their deliverance from the hands of Sam. Ion, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philistine lords for Samson's redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly, by a public officer to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their presence ; he at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him: The Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's deliverance : in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in hafte, confusedly at first, and afterward more distinctly relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
The S CE N E before the Prison in Gaza.
A little onward lend thy guiding
To these dark steps, a little further on; For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade : There I am wont to fit, when
chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
5 Daily' in the common prison else injoin'd me, Where I, a prisoner chain’d, scarce freely draw The air imprison'd also, close and damp, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, The breath of Heav'n fresh blowing, pure and sweet, With day-spring born ; here leave me to respire. This day a solemn feast the people hold To Dagon their fea-idol, and forbid Laborious works; unwillingly this rest Their superstition yields me; hence with leave Retiring from the popular noise, I seek This unfrequented place to find some ease, Ease to the body fome, none to the mind From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm Of hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone,
20 But rush upon me thronging, and presen Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heav'n foretold
35 With this Heav'n-gifted strength ? O glorious strength Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I Should Israel from Philiftian yoke deliver ; Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him 40 Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke : Yet stay, let me not rafhly call in doubt Divine prediction; what if all foretold Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, 45 Whom have I to complain of but myself ? Who this high gift of strength committed to me, In what part lodg’d, how, easily bereft me, Under the seal of silence could not keep, But weakly to a woman must reveal it, O’ercome with importunity and tears. O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is ftrength without a double Mare
peace, I must not quarrel with the will
the source of all my miseries; So many, and fo huge, that each apart Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all, O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! Light the prime work of God to me is extinct, 70 And all her various objects of delight Annull’d, which might in part my grief have easid, Inferior to the vilest now become Of man or worm; the vileft here excel me, They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos’d 75 To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Within doors, or without, still as a fool, In pow'r of others, never in my own ; Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
80 Irrecoverably, dark, total eclipse Without all hope of day !