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Whereof this ominous night, that clos'd thee round, "There stand, if thou wilt stand ; to stand upright So many terrors, voices, prodigies,
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house May warn thee, as a sure foregoing sign."
Have brought thee, and highest plac'd : highest is So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on
"Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God:
Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone.”
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell. At least might seem to hold all power of thee, Is when Earth's son Antæus. (to compare Ambitious spirit! and wouldst be thought my God; Small things with greatest,) in Irassa strove And storm'st refus'd, thinking to terrify
With Jove's Alcides, and, oft foil'd, still rose, Me to thy will! desist, (thou art discern'd,
Receiving from his mother Earth new strength, And toil'st in vain, nor me in vain molesi.” Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join'd,
To whom the fiend, now swollen with rage, replied. Throttled at length in the air, expir'd and fell; " Then hear, O son of David, virgin-born,
So, after many a foil, the tempter proud, For Son of God to me is yet in doubt;
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride, Of the Messiah I had heard foretold
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall : By all the prophets; of thy birth at length,
And as that Theban monster, that propos'd Announc'd by Gabriel, with the first I knew, Her riddle, and him who solv'd it not devour'd, And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field, That once found out and solv'd, for grief and spite On thy birth-night that sung thee Savior born. Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian steep; From that time seldom have I ceas'd to eye
So, struck with dread and anguish, fell the fiend, Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth,
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God. Though not to be baptiz'd,) by voice from Heaven So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe Heard thee pronounc'd the Son of God belov'd. Of angels on full sail of wing flew nigh, Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer view Who on their plumy vans receiv'd him soft And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn
From his uneasy station, and upbore, In what degree or meaning thou art callid
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air ; The Son of God; which bears no single sense. Then, in a flowery valley, set him down The Son of God I also am, or was;
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
And, from the fount of life, ambrosial drink,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, angelic quires Thou art to be my fatal enemy :
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory Good reason then, if I beforehand seek
Over temptation and the tempter proud. To understand my adversary, who
“ True image of the Father; whether thron'd And what he is; his wisdom, power, intent: In the bosom of bliss, and light of light By parl or composition, truce or league,
Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrin'd
Wandering the wilderness ; whatever place,
The Son of God, with godlike force indued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.
For, though that seat of earthly bliss be fail'd, Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
A fairer Paradise is founded now The holy city, lifted high her towers,
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou, And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd
A Savior, art come down to re-install, Her pile, far off appearing like a mount
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be Of alabaster, topt with golden spires :
Of tempter and temptation without fear. There on the highest pinnacle, he set
But thou, infernal serpent! shalt not long The Son of God, and added thus in scorn.
Rule in the clouds like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down had begun, left it unfinished. Seneca, the philosoUnder his feet: for proof, ere this thou feel'st pher, is by some thought the author of those trage Thy wound, (yet not thy last and deadliest wound,) dies (at least the best of them) that go under that By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in Hell name. Gregory Nazianzen, a father of the church, No triumph : in all her gates Abaddon rues
thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe person to write a tragedy, which is entitled Christ To dread the Son of God: he, all unarm’d,
suffering. This is mentioned to vindicate tragedy Shall chase thee, with the terror of his voice, from the smallesteem, or rather infamy, which From thy demoniac holds, possession foul,
in the account of many it undergoes at this day Thee and thy legions : yelling they shall fly, with other common interludes ; happening, through And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
the poet's error of intermixing comic stuff with Lest he command them down into the deep, tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial Bound, and to torment sent before their time. and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both worlds, been counted absurd ; and brought in without Queller of Satan! on thy glorious work
discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And Now enter; and begin to save mankind."
though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using Thus they the Son of God, our Savior meek, sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation, Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refreshid, that which Martial calls an epistle; in behalf of Brought on his way with joy; he, unobserv'd, this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, Home to his mother's house private return'd. much different from what among us passes for best,
thus much beforehand may be epistled ; that Chorus is here introduced after the Greek manner, not ancient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. In the modelling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the ancients and Italians are
rather followed, as of much more authority and fame. SAMSON AGONISTES,
The measure of verse used in the Chorus is of all
sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather A DRAMATIC POEM.
A polelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epode, which were a kind of stanzas
framed only for the music, then used with the Aristot. Poet. cap. 6.
Chorus that sung; not essential to the poem, and
therefore not material ; or, being divided into stanΤραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπεδαίας, κ. τ. λ. zas or pauses, they may be called Allæostropha.
Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the
stage (to which this work never was intended) is Tragedia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam ethe
ehere omitted. metum perficiens talium affectuurn lustrationem.
It suffices if the whole drama be found not pro
duced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and uniOf that sort of Dramatic Poem which is called formity, and that commonly called the plot, whether Tragedy.
intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but
such economy, or disposition of the fable as may TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, hath stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most only will best judge who are not unacquainted with profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic Aristotle to be of power, by raising pity and fear, poets unequalled yet by any, and the best rule to or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like all who endeavor to write tragedy. The circumpassions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just scription of time, wherein the whole drama begins measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by read and ends, is, according to ancient rule, and best exing or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is ample, within the space of twenty-four hours. Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion : for so, in physic, things of melancholic hue and quality are used against melancholy,
THE ARGUMENT. sour against sour, salt to remove salt humors.Hence Philosophers and other gravest writers, as Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the prison Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of at Gaza, there to labor as in a common work tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their dis- house, on a festival day, in the general cessation course. The Apostle Paul himself thought it not from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit awhile text of Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33.; and Paræus, and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole length to be visited by certain friends and equals book as a tragedy, into acts distinguished each by al of his tribe, which makes the Chorus, who seek chorus of heavenly harpings and song between. to comfort him what they can; then by his old Heretofore men in highest dignity have labored not father Manoah, who endeavors the like, and witha little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. al tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by Of that honor Dionysius the elder was no less am ransom; lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by bitious, than before of his attaining to the tyranny. the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their Augustus Cæsar also had begun his Ajax, but deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet uzlable to please his own judgment with what he more troubles him. Manoah then deparis to
prosecute his endeavor with the Philistine lords With this Heaven-gifted strength? O glorious for Samson's redemption; who in the meanwhile
strength, is visited by other persons; and lastly by a pub- Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd lic officer to require his coming to the feast be- Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I fore the lords and people, to play or show his Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dis- Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him missing the public officer with absolute denial to Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, come; at length, persuaded inwardly that this Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke : was from God, he yields to go along with him, Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt who came now the second time with great threat- Divine prediction ; what if all foretold enings to fetch him : the Chorus yet remaining on Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to whom have I to complain of but myself? procure ere long his son's deliverance: in the Who this high gift of strength committed to me, midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me, haste, confusedly at first, and afterward more dis- Under the seal of silence could not keep, tinctly, relating the catastrophe, what Samson had | But weakly to a woman must reveal it, done to the Philistines, and by accident to him. O'ercome with importunity and tears. self; wherewith the tragedy ends.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command ! MANOAH the father of Samson.
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal DALILA, his wife.
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. HARAPHA of Gath.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will Public Officer.
Of highest dispensation, which herein Messenger.
Haply had ends above my reach to know :
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the source of all my miseries ;
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, To these dark steps, a little further on ;
And all her various objects of delight For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas' There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Inferior to the vilest now become Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me; Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, They creep, yet see ; I, dark in light, expos'd Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, In power of others, never in my own; The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.- O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, This day a solemn feast the people hold
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Without all hope of day! Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
O first created Beam, and thou great Word, Their superstition yields me; hence with leave “ Let there be light, and light was over all;" Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree! This unfrequented place to find some ease,
The Sun to me is dark Ease to the body some, none to the mind
And silent as the Moon, From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm When she deserts the night, Of hornets arm'd, no sooner found alone,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eve confin'd. From off the altar, where an offering burn'd, So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ? As in a fiery column charioting
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus'd.
Then had I not been thus exil'd from light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried ; but, O yet more miserable! Betray'd, captív'd, and both my eyes put out, Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave; Made of my enernies the scorn and gaze;
Buried, yet not exempt, To grind in brazen fetters under task
| By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs ; Or the sphere of fortune, raises ;
But thee whose strength, while virtue was her mate, To all the miseries of life,
Might have subdued the Earth, Life in captivity
Universally crown'd with highest praises. sair Among inhuman foes.
Sams. I hear the sound of words; their sense the But who are these ? for with joint pace I hear Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear. The tread of many feet steering this way;
Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh.-Matchless in Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
might, At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief; Their daily practice to afflict me more.
We come, thy friends and neighbors not unknown
From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale, [Enter CHORUS]
To visit or bewail thee; or, if better, Chor. This, this is he; softly awhile,
Counsel or consolation we may bring, Let us not break in upon him:
Salve to thy sores; apt words have power to swage O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
The tumors of a troubled mind,
[learn With languish'd head unpropt,
Sams. Your coming, friends, revives me ; for I As one past hope, abandon'd,
Now of my own experience, not by talk, And by himself given over;
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
Bear in their superscription, (of the most O'er-worn and soil'd ;
I would be understood ;) in prosperous days Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he, They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head, That heroic, that renown'd,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends, Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd (withstand; How many evils have inclos'd me round: No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me. Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid;
Blindness; for had I sight, confus'd with shame, Ran on embattled armies clad in iron;
How could I once look up or heave the head, And, weaponless himself,
Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwreck'd
My vessel trusted to me from above,
To a deceitful woman? tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool When insupportably his foot advanc'd,
In every street ? do they not say, how well In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Are come upon him his deserts ? yet why? Spurn'd them to death by troops. The bold Asca- Immeasurable strength they might behold lonite
In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean; Fled from his lion ramp; old warriors turn'd This with the other should, at least, have pair'd, Their plated backs under his heel;
These two, proportion'd ill, drove me transverse. Or, groveling, soil'd their crested helmets in the dust. Chor. Tax not divine disposal; wisest men Then with what trivial weapon came to hand, Have err'd, and by bad women been deceiv'd; The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone,
And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.
[bore Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides : Then by main force pullid up, and on his shoulders Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old, Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair, No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so; At least of thy own nation, and as noble. Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven. | Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd Which shall I first bewail,
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed Thy bondage or lost sight,
The daughter of an infidel: they knew not Prison within prison
That what I motion'd was of God; I knew Inseparably dark ?
From intimate impúlse, and therefore urg'd Thou art become (0 worst imprisonment!)
The marriage on; that by occasion hence The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,
(plain) I might begin Israel's deliverance, (Which men enjoying sight oft without cause com The work to which I was divinely callid. Imprison'd now indeed,
She proving false, the next I took to wife In real darkness of the body dwells,
(O that I never had! fond wish too late,) Shut up from outward light
Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila, To incorporate with gloomy night;
That specious monster, my accomplish'd snare. For inward light, alas!
I thought it lawful from my former act, Puts forth no visual beam.
And the same end ; still watching to oppress O mirror of our fickle state,
Israel's oppressors : of what now I suffer Since man on Earth unparallel'd!
She was not the prime cause, but I myself, The rarer thy example stands,
Who, vanquish'd with a peal of words, (O weakness !)
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
Thou never wast amiss, I bear thee witness ;
Yet Israël still serves with all his sons.
Sams. That fault I take not on me, but transfer And hath full right to exempt
Whom so it pleases him by choice
Of sin, or legal debt;
For with his own laws he can best dispense. Deliverance offered : I on the other side
He would not else, who never wanted means, Usd no ambition to commend my deeds:
Nor, in respect of the enemy, just cause,
Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
Down, reason, then; at least vain reasonings down: Safe to the rock of Ethan was retir'd;
Though reason here aver, Not flying but forecasting in what place
That moral verdict quits her of unclean: To set upon them, what advantag'd best;
Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his. Meanwhile the men of Judah, to prevent
But see, here comes thy reverend sire The harass of their land, beset me round;
With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoah : advise
| Sams. Ay me! another inward grief, awak'd
[Enter MANOAH.] Their choicest youth ; they only liv'd who fled. Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath, As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend, And lorded over them whom they now serve: My son, now captive, hither hath inform'd But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt, Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age And by their vices brought to servitude,
Came lagging after; say if he be here. Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Chor. As signal now in low dejected state, Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty ;
As erst in highest, behold him where he lies. And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Man. O miserable change! is this the man, Whom God hath of his special favor rais'd
That invincible Samson, far renown'd, As their deliverer ? if he aught begin,
The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength How frequent to desert him, and at last
Equivalent to angels walk'd their streets, l'o heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds!
None offering fight; who single combatant Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring Duell’d their armies rank'd in proud array, How Succoth and the fort of Penuel
Himself an army, now unequal match Their great deliverer contemn'd,
To save himself against a coward arm'd The matchless Gideon, in pursuit
At one spear's length? O ever-failing trust of Madian and her vanquish'd kings:
In mortal strength! and oh! what not in man
Deceivable and vain ? Nay, what thing good
I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach ; I gain'd a son, Had not his prowess quell'd their pride
And such a son as all men hail'd me happy ;In that,sore battle, when so many died
Who would be now a father in my stead ? Without reprieve, adjudg'd to death,
10 wherefore did God grant me my request, For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd ?
Our earnest prayers, then, given with solenn hand But God's propos'd deliverance not so.
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? Chor. Just are the ways of God,
For this did the angel twice descend ? for this And justifiable to men;
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant
The miracle of men; then in an hour
Thy foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind,
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves ? Yet more there be, who doubt his ways not just, Alas! methinks whom God hath chosen once As to his own edícts found contradicting,
To worthiest deeds if he through frailty err, Then give the reins to wandering thought,
He should not so o'erwhelm, and as a thrall Regardless of his glory's diminution ;
Subject him to so foul indignities, Till, by their own perplexities involv'd,
Be it but for honor's sake of former deeds. They ravel more, still less resolv'd,
Sams. Appoint not heavenly disposition, father, But never find self-satisfying solution.
Nothing of all these evils hath befall'n me As if they would confine the Interminable, But justly: I myself have brought them on, And tie him to his own prescript
Sole author I, sole cause : if aught seem vile, Who made our laws to bind us, not himself, As vile hath been my folly, who have profan'd