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Since man on earth unparalleled,
The rarer thy example stands,
By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen.
For him I reckon not in high estate
Whom long descent of birth,
Or the sphere of fortune, raises ;
But thee, whose strength, while virtue was her mate,
Might have subdued the Earth,
Universally crowned with highest praises.
Sams. I hear the sound of words; their sense the air Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear. Chor. He speaks : let us draw nigh. Matchless in
might, The glory late of Israel, now the grief! We come, thy friends and neighbours not unknown, 180 From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale, To visit or bewail thee; or, if better, Counsel or consolation we may bring, Salve to thy sores : apt words have power to swage The tumours of a troubled mind, And are as balm to festered 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
190 I would be understood). In prosperous days They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head, Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends, How many evils have enclosed me round; Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me, Blindness; for, had I sight, confused with shame, How could I once look up, or heave the head, Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwracked
My vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigged, and for a word, a tear,
Fool! have divulged the secret gift of God
To a deceitful woman? Tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverbed 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 paired ;
These two, proportioned ill, drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal. Wisest men
Have erred, and by bad women been deceived ;
And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.
Deject not, then, so overmuch thyself,
Who hást of sorrow thy full load besides.
Yet, truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder
Why thou should'st wed Philistian women rather
Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair,
At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleased
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed
The daughter of an infidel. They knew not
That what I motioned 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 I was divinely called.
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 accomplished snare. 230
I thought it lawful from my former act,
And the same end, still watching to oppress
Of what now I suffer
She was not the prime cause, but I myself,
Who, vanquished with a peal 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 Isråėl 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 considered,
Deliverance offered. I, on the other side,
Used no ambition to commend my deeds ;
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the
doer. But they persisted deaf, and would not seem To count them things worth notice, till at length
250 Their lords, the Philistines, with gathered powers, Entered Judea, seeking me, who then Safe to the rock of Etham was retiredNot 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,
260 Bound with two cords. But cords to me were threads Touched with the flame: on their whole host I flew Unarmed, and with a trivial weapon felled Their choicest youth; they only lived who fled. Had Judah that day joined, or one whole tribe, They had by this possessed the towers of Gath, And lorded over them whom now they 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 contemned,
The matchless Gideon, in pursuit
Of Madian, and her vanquished 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 quelled 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.
290 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, 300
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
Whomso 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,
320 Unclean, unchaste.
Down, Reason, then ; at least, vain reasonings down;
Though Reason here aver
That moral verdit 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 Manoa: advise
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
Sams. Ay me! another inward grief, awaked
330 With mention of that name, renews the 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 hath informed Your younger feet, while mine, cast back with age, Came lagging after, say if he be here.