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Chor. His giantship is gone somewhat crest-fallen,
Stalking with less unconscionable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe.

Sams. I dread him not, nor all his giant brood,
Though fame divulge him father of five sons,
All of gigantic size, Goliah chief.i

Chor. He will directly to the lords, I fear,
And with malicious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.

Sams. He must allege some cause, and offered fight
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise
Whether he durst accept the offer or not;
And that he durst not plain enough appeared.
Much more affliction than already felt

They cannot well impose, nor I sustain,

If they intend advantage of my labours,
The work of many hands, which earns my keeping,
With no small profit daily to my owners.

But come what will; my deadliest foe will prove
My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence;
The worst that he can give to me the best.
Yet so it may fall out, because their end
Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Draw their own ruin who attempt the deed.

Chor. O, how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppressed,
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might,

To quell the mighty of the earth, the oppressor,
The brute and boisterous force of violent men,

Hardy and industrious to support

Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue

The righteous, and all such as honour truth!
He all their ammunition

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And feats of war defeats,

With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour armed;

Their armouries and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless, while

With winged expedition

Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who, surprised,
Lose their defence, distracted and amazed.
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Making them each his own deliverer,
And victor over all

That tyranny or fortune can inflict.

Either of these is in thy lot,

Samson, with might endued

Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved

May chance to number thee with those

Whom patience finally must crown.

This Idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest,

Labouring thy mind

More than the working day thy hands.

And yet, perhaps, more trouble is behind ;

For I descry this way

Some other tending; in his hand
A sceptre or quaint staff he bears,
Comes on amain, speed in his look.
By his habit I discern him now

A public officer, and now at hand.
His message will be short and voluble.

Off. Ebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
Chor. His manacles remark him; there he sits.

Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say: This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,





With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games;
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some public proof thereof require
To honour this great feast, and great assembly.
Rise, therefore, with all speed, and come along,
Where I will see thee heartened and fresh clad,
To appear as fits before the illustrious lords.

Sams. Thou know'st I am an Ebrew; therefore tell them
Our law forbids at their religious rites


My presence; for that cause I cannot come.

Off. This answer, be assured, will not content then.
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every sort
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners,
Jugglers and dancers, antics, mummers, mimics,
But they must pick me out, with shackles tired,
And over-laboured at their public mill,

To make them sport with blind activity?

Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels,
On my refusal, to distress me more,

Or make a game of my calamities?
Return the way thou cam'st; I will not come.
Off Regard thyself; this will offend them highly.
Sams. Myself! my conscience, and internal peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debased
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Although their drudge, to be their fool or jester,
And, in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief,
To show them feats, and play before their god-
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Joined with extreme contempt! I will not come.

Off. My message was imposed on me with speed,
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?

Sams. So take it with what speed thy message needs.



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Off. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed. Consider, Samson; matters now are strained. Up to the highth, whether to hold or break.


He's gone, and who knows how he may report
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message, more imperious,
More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bear.
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair
After my great transgression-so requite
Favour renewed, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols,
A Nazarite, in place abominable,

Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon?
Besides how vile, contemptible, ridiculous,

Sams. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour

Honest and lawful to deserve my food



What act more execrably unclean, profane?

Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the Philistines, Idolatrous, uncircumcised, unclean.

Of those who have me in their civil power.


Chor. Where the heart joins not, outward acts defile not. Sams. Where outward force constrains, the sentence holds: But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon, Not dragging? The Philistian lords command: Commands are no constraints. If I obey them, I do it freely, venturing to displease God for the fear of man, and man prefer, Set God behind; which, in his jealousy, Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness. Yet that he may dispense with me, or thee, Present in temples at idolatrous rites

For some important cause, thou need'st not doubt.


Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach. Sams. Be of good courage; I begin to feel Some rousing motions in me, which dispose To something extraordinary my thoughts. I with this messenger will go along— Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonour Our Law, or stain my vow of Nazarite. If there be aught of presage in the mind, This day will be remarkable in my life By some great act, or of my days the last. Chor. In time thou hast resolved:

the man


Off. Samson, this second message from our lords
To thee I am bid say: Art thou our slave,
Our captive, at the public mill our drudge,
And dar'st thou, at our sending and command,
Dispute thy coming? Come without delay;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fastened than a rock.

Sams. I could be well content to try their art,
Which to no few of them would prove pernicious;
Yet, knowing their advantages too many,
Because they shall not trail me through their streets
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.

Masters' commands come with a power resistless
To such as owe them absolute subjection;
And for a life who will not change his purpose
(So mutable are all the ways of men!)


Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our Law.

Off. I praise thy resolution. Doff these links:
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.




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