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Intangled with a poisonous bosom snake,
If not by quick destruction soon cut off
As I by thee, to ages an example.
Yet hear me, Samson; not that I endeavour
To lessen or extenuate my offence;
But that on the other side, if it be weighed
By itself, with aggravations not surcharged,
Or else with just allowance counterpoised,
may, if possible, thy pardon find
The easier towards me, or thy hatred less.
First granting, as I do, it was a weakness
In me, but incident to all our sex,
Curiosity, inquisitive, importune
Of secrets, then, with like infirmity
To publish them, both common female faults:
Was it not weakness also to make known
For importunity, that is for nought,
Wherein consisted all thy strength and safety ?
To what I did thou show'dst me first the way.
But I to enemies revealed, and should not:
Nor shouldst thou have trusted that to woman's frailty:
Ere I to thee, thou to thyself wast cruel.
Let weakness then with weakness come to parle,
So near related, or the same of l:ind,
Thine forgive mine; that men may censure thine
The gentler, if severely thou exact not
More strength from me, than in thyself was found.
And what if love, which thou interpret'st hate,
The jealousy of love, powerful of sway
In human hearts, nor less in mine towards thee,
Caused what I did ? I saw thee mutable
Of fancy; feared lest one day thou wouldst leave me
As her at Timna, sought by all means therefore
How to endear, and hold thee to me firmest:
I saw than by importuning
To learn thy secrets, get into my power
Thy key of strength and safety : thou wilt say,
Why then revealed ? I was assured by those
Who tempted me, that nothing was designed
Against thee but safe custody, and hold:
That made for me; I knew that liberty
Would draw thee forth to perilous enterprises,
While I at home sat full of cares and fears,
Wailing thy absence in my widowed bed;
Here I should still enjoy thee day and night,
Mine and love's prisoner, not the Philistines ;
Whole to myself, unhazarded abroad,
Fearless at home of partners in my love.
These reasons in love's law have passed for good,
Though fond and reasonless to some, perhaps ;
And love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much woe,
Yet always pity or pardon hath obtained.
Be not unlike all others, not austere
As thou art strong, inflexible as steel
If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed,
In uncompassionate anger do not so.
How cunningly the sorceress displays Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine! That malice, not repentance, brought thee hither, By this appears: I gave, thou say'st, the example; I led the way; bitter reproach, but true ; I to myself was false ere thou to me; Such pardon therefore as I give my folly, Take to thy wicked deed; which when thou seest Impartial, self-severe, inexorable, Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather Confess it feigned: weakness is thy excuse, And I believe it; weakness to resist Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse, What murderer, what traitor, parricide, Incestuous, sacrilegious, but may plead it? All wickedness is weakness: that plea, therefore, With God or man will gain thee no remission. But love constrained thee; call it furious rage To satisfy thy lust: love seeks to have love: My love how couldst thou hope, who took'st the way To raise in me inexpiable hate, Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betrayed ?! In vain thou striv'st to cover shame with shame, Or by evasions thy crime uncover'st more.
Since thou determin'st weakness for no plea In man or woman, though to thy own condemning, Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides, 1 The same construction is in Paradise Lost, ix. 792:
“ And knew not eating death."
What sieges girt me round, ere I consented;
Which might have awed the best resolved of men,
The constantest, to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou lay'st,
That wrought with me: thou know'st the magistrates
And princes of my country came in person,
Solicited, commanded, threatened, urged,
Adjured by all the bonds of civil duty
And of religion; pressed how just it was,
How honourable, how glorious to entrap
A common enemy, who had destroyed
Such numbers of our nation : and the priest
Was not behind, but ever at my ear,
Preaching how meritorious with the gods
It would be to ensnare an irreligious
Dishonourer of Dagon: what had I
To oppose against such powerful arguments?
Only my love of thee held long debate,
And combated in silence all these reasons
With hard contést: at length that grounded maxim
So rife and celebrated in the mouths
Of wisest men, that to the public good
Private respect must yield, with grave authority
Took full possession of me and prevailed;
Virtue, as I thought, truth, duty, so enjoining.
I thought where all thy circling wiles would end,
In feigned religion, smooth hypocrisy.
But had thy love, still odiously pretended,
Been, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee
Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds.
I, before all the daughters of my tribe,
And of my nation, chose thee from among
My enemies, loved thee, as too well thou knew'st,
Too well, unbosomed all my secrets to thee,
Not out of levity, but overpowered
By thy request, who could deny thee nothing;
Yet now am judged an enemy. Why then
Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband,
Then, as since then, thy country's foe professed ?
Being once a wife, for me thou wast to leave
Parents and country; nor was I their subject.
Nor under their protection but my own,
Thou mine, not theirs: if aught against my life