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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

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Safe to the rock of Etham was retired-
Not 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,
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

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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.

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;

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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,

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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,

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To seek in marriage that fallacious bride,
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.

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, 340 That invincible Samson, far renowned, The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength Equivalent to Angels' walked their streets, None offering fight; who, single combatant, Duelled their armies ranked in proud array, Himself an army—now unequal match To save himself against a coward armed At one spear's length? O ever-failing trust In mortal strength! and, oh, what not in man

350

Deceivable and vain? Nay, what thing good
Prayed for, but often proves our woe, our bane?
I prayed for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach; I gained a son,
And such a son as all men hailed me happy:
Who would be now a father in my stead?
Oh, wherefore did God grant me my request,
And as a blessing with such pomp adorned?
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest prayers, then, given with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind?

360

For this did the Angel twice descend? for this
Ordained thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select and sacred? glorious for a while,
The miracle of men; then in an hour
Ensnared, 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 so foul indignities,

Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.

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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 profaned
The mystery of God, given me under pledge
Of vow, and have betrayed it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.

This well I knew, nor was at all surprised,
But warned by oft experience. Did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her highth
Of nuptial love professed, carrying it straight

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To them who had corrupted her, my spies
And rivals? In this other was there found
More faith, who, also in her prime of love,
Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,
Though offered only, by the scent conceived,
Her spurious first-born, Treason against me?
Thrice she assayed, with flattering prayers and sighs,
And amorous reproaches, to win from me
My capital secret, in what part my strength

Lay stored, in what part summed, that she might know;
Thrice I deluded her, and turned to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly and with what impudence

She purposed to betray me, and (which was worse
Than undissembled hate) with what contempt
She sought to make me traitor to myself.
Yet, the fourth time, when, mustering all her wiles,
With blandished parleys, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceased not day nor night
To storm me, over-watched and wearied out,
At times when men seek most repose and rest,
I yielded, and unlocked her all my heart,
Who, with a grain of manhood well resolved,
Might easily have shook off all her snares;
But foul effeminacy held me yoked
Her bond-slave. O indignity, O blot
To honour and religion! servile mind
Rewarded well with servile punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fallen,
These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,

True slavery; and that blindness worse than this,
That saw not how degenerately I served.

Man. I cannot praise thy marriage-choices, son—Rather approved them not; but thou didst plead 421

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