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Beauty is Nature's brag, and must be shown
In courts, in feasts, and high solemnities,
Where most may wonder at the workmanship;
It is for homely features to keep home,
They had their name thence; coarse complexions
And cheeks of sorry grain will serve to ply
The sampler, and to tease the housewife's wool.
What need a vermil-tinctur'd lip for that,
Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn?
There was another meaning in these gifts,
Think what, and be advis'd, you are but young yet.
Lady. I had not thought to have unlock'd my lips
In this unhallow'd air, but that this juggler
Would think to charm my judgment, as mine eyes,
Obtruding false rules prank'd in reason's garb. 771
I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,
And virtue has no tongue to check her pride.
Impostor, do not charge most innocent Nature,
As if she would her children should be riotous 775
With her abundance; she, good cateress,
Means her provision only to the good,
That live according to her sober laws,
And holy dictate of spare temperance:
If every just man, that now pines with want, 780
Had but a moderate and beseeming share
Of that which lewdly pamper'd luxury
Now heaps upon some few with vast excess,
Nature's full blessings would be well dispens'd
In unsuperfluous even proportion,
And she no whit incumber'd with her store,
And then the giver would be better thank'd,
His praise due paid; for swinish gluttony
Ne'er looks to heaven amidst his gorgeous feast,
But with besotted base ingratitude
That had the sceptre from his father Brut.
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That stay'd her flight with his cross flowing course,
The water-nymphs that in the bottom play'd, 845
Held up their pearly wrists and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall,
Who, piteous of her woes, rear'd her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to embathe
In nectar'd lavers strow'd with asphodil.
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropp'd in ambrosial oils till she reviv'd,
And underwent a quick immortal change,
Made goddess of the river; still she retains
Her maiden gentleness, and oft at eve
Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
Helping all urchin blasts, and ill-luck signs
That the shrew'd meddling elf delights to make,
Which she with precious vial'd liquors heals.
For which the shepherds at their festivals
Carol her goodness loud in rustic lays,
And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream
Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils. And, as the old swain said, she can unlock
The clasping charm, and thaw the numbing spell,
If she be right invok'd in warbled song,
For maidenhood she loves, and will be swift
To aid a virgin, such as was herself,
In hard besetting need; this will I try,
And add the power of some adjuring verse.
Crams and blasphemes his feeder. Shall I go on?
Or have I said enough? To him that dares
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
Against the sun-clad power of chastity,
Fain would I something say, yet to what end? 795
Thou hast nor ear nor soul to apprehend
The sublime notion, and high mystery,
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits
To such a flame of sacred vehemence,
That dumb things would be mov'd to sympathize,
And the brute earth would lend her nerves and
That must be utter'd to unfold the sage
And serious doctrine of virginity,
And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know More happiness than this thy present lot.
Enjoy your dear wit, and gay rhetoric,
In name of great Oceanus,
That hath so well been taught her dazzling fence,
Thou art not fit to hear thyself convinc'd;
Yet should I try, the uncontrolled worth
By th' earth-shaking Neptune's mace,
And Tethy's grave majestic pace,
By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look,
And the Carpathian wizard's hook,
By scaly Triton's winding shell,
And old sooth-saying Glaucus' spell,
By Leucothea's lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis' tinsel-slipper'd feet,
And the songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope's dear tomb,
And fair Ligea's golden comb,
Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks,
Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
By all the nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance,
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head
From thy coral-paven bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answer'd have.
Listen, and save.
Till all thy magic structures rear'd so high,
Were shatter'd into heaps o'er thy false head.
Com. She fables not, I feel that I do fear
Her words set off by some superior power;
And though not mortal, yet a cold shudd'ring dew
Dips me all o'er, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus
To some of Satan's crew. I must dissemble
And try her yet more strongly. Come, no more,
This is mere moral babble, and direct
Against the canon laws of our foundation;
I must not suffer this, yet 'tis but the lees
And settlings of a melancholy blood:
But this will cure all straight, one sip of this
Will bathe the drooping spirits and delight
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste.-
The Brothers rush in with swords drawn, wrest his
glass out of his hand, and break it against the
ground; his rout make sign of resistance, but are
all driven in: The attendunt Spirit comes in.
O ye mistook, ye should have snatch'd his wand
And bound him fast; without his rod revers'd,
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the Lady that sits here
In stony fetters fix'd, and motionless:
Yet stay, be not disturb'd; now I bethink me,
Some other means I have which may be us'd,
Which once of Melibaus old I learn'd.
The soothest shepherd that e'er pip'd on plains.
There is a gentle nymph not far from hence,
That with moist curb sways the smooth Sever
Samson made captive, blind, and non in the prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common work-house, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit awhile and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can. then by his old father Manoah, who endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endeavour with the Philistian lords for Samson's redemption; who in the meanwhile is visited by other persons; and lastly by a public officer to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play and show his strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the public of ficer with absolute denial to come; at length persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatenings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoath returns full of joyful hope, to procure erelong his son's deliverance: in the midst of which discourse a Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterwards more distinctly relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
A LITTLE cnward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little farther on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade:
There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Daily' in the common prison else injoin'd me,
Where I a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw
The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends,
The breath of heaven fresh blowing, pure and
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
Put to the labour of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bondslave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver:
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke;
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default 45
Whom have I to complain of but myself?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
O'ercome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
Their superstition yields me; hence with leave 15
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from heaven foretold
Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His godlike presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command!
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Haply had ends above my reach to know:
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the source of all my miseries;
So many, and so huge, that each apart
Would ask a life to wail, but chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Design'd for great exploits; if I must die
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, 70
And all her various objects of delight
Betray'd, captiv'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task
With this heaven-gifted strength? O glorious
* Samson Agonistes, that is, Samson an actor, Samson represented in a play.
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man. or worm; the vilest here excel me,
They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos'd
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
As in the land of darkness yet in light;
To live a life half dead, a living death,
Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,
We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale
And buried; but O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By privilege of death and burial
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs, 105 But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these? for with joint pace I hear 110
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps t' insult,
Their daily practice to afflict me more.
Chor. This, this is he; softly awhile
Let us not break in upon him;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd,
With languish'd head unpropp'd,
As one past hope, abandon'd,
And by himself given over;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
And are as balm to fester'd wounds.
Sams. Your coming, friends, revives me, for I
Now of my own experience, not by talk,
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends
Bear in their superscription, (of the most
I would be understood) in prosp'rous days
They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends,
How many evils have enclos'd me round;
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness, for had I sight, confus'd with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
Who like a foolish pilot have shipwreck'd
My vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigg'd; and for a word, or a tear,
Fool, have divulg'd the secret gift of God
To a deceitful woman? tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverb'd 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 pair'd,
These two, proportion'd ill, drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal; wisest men 210 Have err'd, and by bad women been deceiv'd; And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise. Deject not then so overmuch thyself, Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides ; Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder 215 Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather Than of thy own tribe fairer, or as fair, At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed The daughter of an infidel; they knew not That what I motion'd was of God; I knew From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd The marriage on; that by occasion hence I might begin Israel's deliverance, The work to which I was divinely call'd. She proving false, the next I took to wife (0 that I never had! fond wish too late,) Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila,
Or grov'ling soil'd their crested helmets in the dust,
Then with what trivial weapon came to hand,
The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone,
A thousand foreskins fell, the flower of Palestine,
In Ramath-lechi famous to this day.
Then by main force pull'd up, and on his shoulders
The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,
Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up heaven.
Which shall I first bewail,
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke The Philistine, thy country's enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I bear thee witness: Yet Israel still serves with all his sons.
Thy bondage or lost sight,
Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!) The dungeon of thyself; thy soul
(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause com
In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light
To' incorporate with gloomy night;
Puts forth no visual beam.
O mirror of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparallel'd!
The rarer thy example stands,
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
Touch'd with the flame: on their whole host I flew
Unarm'd, and with a trivial weapon fell'd
Their choicest youth; they only liv'd who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, 265
They had by this possess'd 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 rais'd
As their deliverer; if he ought begin,
How frequent to desert him, and at last
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds?
Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine th' Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right t' exempt
Whom so it pleases him by choice
From national obstriction, without taint
For with his own laws he can best dispense.
Nor in respect of th' enemy just cause
Our earnest prayers, then given with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind?
For this did th' angel twice descend? for this
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select, and sacred, glorious for awhile
The miracle of men; then in a hour
Insnar'd, 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 such foul indignities,
Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.
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 profan'd
The mystery of God given me under pledge
Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.
This well I knew, nor was at all surpris'd,
But warm'd by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her height
Of nuptial love profess'd, carrying it straight 385
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 offer'd only, by the sent conceiv'd
Her spurious first-born, treason against me?
Thrice she assay'd with flatt'ring prayers and sighs,
And amorous reproaches, to win from me
My capital secret, in what part my strength
Lay stor'd, in what part summ'd, that she might
Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport Her importunity, each time perceiving How openly, and with what impudence
She purpos'd to betray me, and (which was worse
Than undissembled hate) with what contempt 400
She sought to make me traitor to myself:
Yet the fourth time, when mustering all her wiles,
With blandish'd parleys, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceas'd not day nor night
To storm me, over-watch'd, and wearied out, "406
At times when men seek most repose and rest,
He would not else who never wanted means, 315 I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart,
Who with a grain of manhood well resolv'd
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yok'd
Her bond slave; O indignity, O blot
To honour and religion! servile mind
Rewarded well with servile punishment!
Down reason then, at least vain reasonings down, The base degree to which I now am fallen, Though reason here aver
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
Sams. Ay me, another inward grief awak'd 330
With mention of that name renews th' 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 inform'd
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.
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 serv'd. 419
Man. I cannot praise thy marriage choices, son, Rather approv'd them not; but thou didst plead Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st Find some occasion to infest our foes.
I state not that; this I am sure, our foes
Found soon occasion thereby to make thee
Their captive, and their triumph; thou the sooner
Temptation found'st, or over-potent charms
To violate the secret trust of silence
Deposited within thee; which to have kept
Tacit, was in thy power: true; and thou bear'st
Enough, and more, the burden of that fault;
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains,
This day the Philistines a popular feast
Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim
Great pomp, and sacrifice, and praises loud
To Dagon, as their god who hath deliver'd
Thee, Samson, bound and blind into their hands,
Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a slain.
So Dagon shall be magnified, and God,