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In the camp of Dan
Be efficacious in thee now at need.
For never was from Heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wondrous actions hath been seen.
But wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste
With youthful steps? much livelier than erewhile
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?
Peace with you, brethren; my inducement hither Was not at present here to find my son, By order of the lords new parted hence To come and play before them at their feast. I heard all as I came, the city rings, And numbers thither flock, I had no will, Lest I should see him forced to things unseemly. But that which moved my coming now, was chiefly To give ye part with me what hope I have With good success to work his liberty.
That hope would much rejoice us to partake
With thee; say, reverend sire, we thirst to hear.
I have attempted one by one the lords
Either at home, or through the high street passing,
With supplication prone and father's tears,
To accept of ransom for my son their prisoner.
Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh,
Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite ;
That part most reverenced Dagon and his priests:
Others more moderate seeming, but their aim
Private reward, for which both god and state
They easily would set to sale; a third
More generous far and civil, who confessed
They had enough revenged, having reduced
Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
The rest was magnanimity to remit,
If some convenient ransom were proposed.
What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky.
Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Their once great drea captive and blind before them,
Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
His ransom, if my whole inheritance May compass it, shall willingly be paid And numbered down: much rather I shall choose To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest, And he in that calamitous prison left. No, I am fixed not to part hence without him. For his redemption all my patrimony, If need be, I am ready to forego And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing
Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons,
Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all ;
Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age,
Thou in old age car'st how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eyesight lost
It shall be my delight to tend his eyes, And view him sitting in the house, ennobled With all those high exploits by him achieved, And on his shoulders waving down those locks, That of a nation armed the strength contained; And I persuade me God had not permitted His strength again to grow up with his hair Garrisoned round about him like a camp Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose To use him further yet in some great service, Not to sit idle with so great a gift Useless, and thence ridiculous about him. And since his strength with eyesight was not lost, God will restore him eyesight to his strength.
Thy hopes are not ill-founded, nor seem vain
Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
Conceived, agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate.
I know your friendly minds, and-Oh, what noise ! Mercy of Heaven! what hideous noise was that? Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
Noise call you it, or universal groan,
As if the whole in habitation perished !
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Of ruin, indeed, methought I heard the noise : Oh! it continues; they have slain my son!
Thy son is rather slaying them; that outcry
From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Some dismal accident it needs must be :
What shall we do, stay here or run and see ?
Best keep together here, lest running thither
We unawares run into danger's mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fallen;
From whom could else a general cry be heard ?
The sufferers then will scarce molest us here,
From other hands we need not much to fear
What if his eyesight (for to Israel's God
Nothing is hard) by miracle restored,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,"
And over heaps of slaughtered walk his way.
That were a joy presumptuous to be thought
Yet God hath wrought things as incredible
For his people of old; what hinders now?
He can, I know, but doubt to think he will ;
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief.
A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner,”
For evil news rides post, while good news baits
And to our wish I see one hither speeding,
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe
Oh, whither shall I run, or which way fly
The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld and yet behold ?
1 Distributing his gifts and portions among his enemies.
Calton would assign the words, “ of bad the sooner; for evil news rides post, while good news baits"-to Manoah, and the two following lines to the chorus,
For dire imagination still pursues me.
But providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason though disturbed, and scarce consulted,
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining
As at some distance from the place of horror,
So in the sad event too much concerned.
The accident was loud, and here before thee
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not;
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
It would burst forth, but I recover breath
And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
Tell us the sum; the circumstance defer.
Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallen ;
All in a moment overwhelmed and fallen.
Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest,
The desolation of a hostile city.
MESSENGER. Feed on that first: there may in grief be surfeit.
MANOAH. Relate by whom?
That still lessens The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Ah! Manoah, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.
Suspense in news is torture; speak them out.
Take then the worst in brief; Samson is dead!
The worst indeed. Oh, all my hope's defeated
· Is wanting, as in Paradise Lost, x. 80.
To free him hence! but death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceived,
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring?
Nipped with the lagging rear of winter's frost!
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How died he? death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell, thou say'st; by whom fell he ?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?
Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Wearied with slaughter then, or how ? explain.
By his own hands.
Self: violence? What cause Brought him so soon at variance with himself Among his foes?
At once both to destroy and be destroyed :
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own ke pulled
O lastly over-strong against thyself!
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.
Occasions drew me early to this city,
And as the gates I entered with sun ise,
1 Warburton has noticed the imitation of Shakspeare, Henry VIII., act iii, sc. 6:
“ This is the state of man; to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him :
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost;
And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening, nips his root;
And then he falls, as I do."