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SAMSON made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a common workhouse, on a festivalday, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit a while 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; and, 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 mean while 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 or show his strength in their presence. He at first refuses, dismissing the public officer 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, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterward more distinctly, relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
MANOAH, the Father of Samson.
DALILA, his Wife.
HARAPHA OF GATH.
Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
SAMS. A little onward lend thy guiding hand
Their superstition yields me; hence with leave 15
2 dark steps] Euripidis Phoenissæ, 834.
19 swarm] Sydney's Arcadia, p. 164, ed. 13th.
Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
His god-like presence, and from some great act
Design'd for great exploits, if I must die
38 captiv'd] 'And captiv'd kings.' Ross's Mel Heliconium, Israel captiv'd.' Cowley's Davideis, lib. ii. p. 84.
In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me,
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command!
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Of man or worm, the vilest here excel me;
58 strength] Ovidii Met. xiii. 363.
'Tu vires sine mente geris.'