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To thee first reverend Manoa, and to thefe
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at fome distance from the place of horror,
So in the fad event too much concern'd.
Man. The accident was loud, and heard before thee
With rueful cry, yet what was we hear not;
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
Meff. It would burst forth, but I recover breath
And fense distract, to know well what I utter.
Man. Tell us the fum, the circumstance defer. Me. Gaza yet ftands, 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.
Mess. Feed on that first, there may in grief be surfeit.
Man. Relate by whom. Meff. By Samfon. Man. That
The forrow, and converts it nigh to joy. [ftill leffens
Meff. Ah Manoa, I refrain, too fuddenly
To utter what will come at last too foon ;-
Left evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.
Man. Sufpenfe in news is torture, speak them out.
Me. Then take the worst in brief, Samfon is dead.
Man. The worst indeed, O all my hope's defeated
To free him hence! but death who fets all free
Hath paid his ransom now and full difcharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his deliv'ry, which now proves
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, fay 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 Samson his death's wound?
Meff. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with flaughter then or how? explain.
Me. By his own hands.
Man. Self-violence? what cause
Brought him fo soon at variance with himself
Among his foes?
Meff. Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy and be destroy'd;
The edifice where all were met to fee him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull'd.
Man. O laftly over-strong 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 laft was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.
Meff. Occafions drew me early to this city,
And as the gates I enter'd with fun-rise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Through each high street: little had I dispatch'd,
When all abroad was rumour'd that this day
Samfon should be brought forth to fhew the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games.
I forrow'd at his captive ftate, but minded
Not to be abfent at that spectacle.
The building was a fpacious 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 op'n, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds, under sky might stand;
I among those aloof obscurely 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 fervant brought, In their state-livery clad; before him pipes And timbrels, on each side 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 fhout Rifted the air, clamouring 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 fet before him Which without help of eye might be assay'd, To heave, pull, draw, and break, he still perform'd All with incredible ftupendious force; None daring to appear antagonist. At length for intermiffion-fake they led him Between the pillars; be his guide requested (For fo from fuch as nearer stood we heard) As over-tir'd, to let him lean a while With both his arms on those two maffy pillars, That to the arched roof gave main support. He unfufpicious led him; which when Samfon Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd, And eyes faft fixt 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
I have perform'd, as reafon was, obeying,
Nor without wonder or delight beheld:
Now of my own accord fuch other tryal
I mean to fhew you of my strength, yet greater,
As with amaze shall strike all who behold.
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd,
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible confufion to and fro,
He tugg'd, he took, 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 Philistian city round
Met from all parts to folemnize this feast.
Samfon with these inmixt, inevitably
Pull'd down the fame destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'fcap'd who stood without.
Chor. O dearly bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd
The work for which thou waft foretold
To Ifrael, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy flain self-kill'd
Not willingly, but tangl'd in the fold,
Of dire neceffity, whofe law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy flaughter'd foes in number more
Than all thy life had flain before.
Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and fublime, '
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
And fat regorg'd of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living dread who dwells
In Silo his bright sanctuary:
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy fent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urg'd them on with mad defire
To call in hafte for their destroyer.
They only fet on sport and play,
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
Fall'n into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves t' invite,
Infenfate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.
Semichor. But he though blind of fight,
Defpis'd and thought extinguish'd quite,
With inward eyes
His fiery virtue rous'd
From under afhes into fudden flame,
And as ev'ning dragon came,
Affailant on the perched roofts,
And nefts in order rang'd
Of tame villatick fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue giv'n for lost,
Depreft, and overthrown, as feem'd,
Like that felf-begott❜n bird
In th' Arabian woods embost,