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In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame, Fierce rain with lightning mix'd, water with fire Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid
In ruin reconcil'd: nor slept the winds As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad Thin sown with aught of profit or delight,
From the four hinges of the world, and fell Will far be found unworthy to compare
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines, With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling, Though rooted deep as high, and sturdiest oaks, Where God is prais'd aright, and God-like men, Bow'd their stiff pecks, loaden with stormy blasts The Holiest of Holies, and his saints,
Or torn up sheer. Ill wast thou shrouded then, (Such are from God inspir'd, not such from thee,) () patient son of God, yet only stood'st Unless where moral virtue is express'd
Unshaken! Nor yet staid the terrour there ; By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round (shriek'd, Their orators thou then extoll'st, as those
Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell’d, some The top of eioquence; statists indeed,
Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou And lovers of their country, as may seem ;
Sat'st unappall'd in calm and sinless peace! But herein to our prophets far beneath,
Thus pass’d the night so foul, till Morning fair As men divinely tought, and better teaching Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice gray ; The solid rules of civil government,
Who with her radiant finger still'd the roar In their majestic unaffected style,
Of thunder, chas'd the clouds, and laid the winds, Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
And grisly spectres, which the fiend had rais'd In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt, To tempt the Son of God with terrours dire. What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so, And now the Sun with more effectual beams What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
Had cheer'd the face of Earth, and dried the wet These only with our law best form a king." From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the birds,
So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now Who all things now behold more fresh and green, Quite at a loss, (for all his darts were spent,, After a night of storm so ruinous, Thus to our Saviour with stern brow replied. Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray,
“ Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor arts, To gratulate the sweet return of morn. Kingdom nor empire pleases thee, nor aught Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn, By me propos'd in life contemplative
Was absent, after all his mischief done, Or active, tended on by glory or fame,
The prince of darkness ;•glad would also seem What dost thou in this world? The wilderness Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came; For thee is fittest place; I found thee there, Yet with no new device, (they all were spent,) And thither will return thee ; yet remember Rather by this his last affront resolv'd, What I foretel thee, soon thou shalt have cause Desperate of better course, to vent his rage To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus
And mad despite to be so oft repellid. Nicely or cautiously, my offer'd aid,
Him walking on a sunny hill he found, Which would have set thee in short time with case Back’d on the north and west by a thick wood; On David's throne, or throne of all the world, Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape, Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season And in a careless mood thus to him said. When prophecies of thee are best fulfill'd.
“ Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God, Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven,
After a dismal night : I heard the wrack, Or Heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars As earth and sky would mingle; but myself (them Voluminous, or single characters,
Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals fear In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of Heaven, Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate
Or to the Earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable
Yet, as being oft-times noxious where they light Nor when ; eternal sure, as without end,
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent, Without beginning; for no date prefix'd
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men, Directs me in the starry rubric set.”
Over whose heads they roar, and seem to point,
This tempest at this desert most was bent;
All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
For both the when and how is no where told ? Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest,
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt ; Wherever, under some concourse of shades, (shield For angels have proclaim'd it, but concealing Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might | The time and means. Each act is rightliest done From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head; Not when it must, but when it may be best : But, shelter'd, slept in vain; for at his head If thou observe not this, be sure to find, The tempter watch'd, and soon with ugly dreams What I foretold thee, many a hard assay Disturb'd his sleep. And either tropic now Of dangers, and adversities, and pains, 'Gan thunder, and both ends of Heaven : the clouds, Ere thou of Israel's sceptre get fast hold;
Whereof this ominous night, that clos'd thee round, " There stand, if thou wilt stand ; to stand upriglit So many terrours, voices, prodigies,
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house (best : May warn thee, as a sure fore-going sign." Have brought thee, and highest plac'd: highest is
So talk'd he, while the Son of God went on Now show thy progeny; if not to stand,
“ Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other harm For it is written, · He will give command
To whom thus Jesus: “ Also it is written,
stood: Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I, accepting,
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell. At least might seem to hold all power of thee,
As 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 molest." Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join'd,
To whom the fiend, now swoln with rage, replied. Throttled at length in the air, expird 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 thec Saviour 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 Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred ; (Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success,) Til at the ford of Jordan, whither all
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down The Son of God I also ain, or was;
On a green bank, and set before him spread And if I was, I am ; relation stands;
A table of celestial food, divine All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought
Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life, In some respect far higher so declar'd :
And, from the fount of life, ambrosial drink, Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour,
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair'd And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild ;
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impair’d, Where, by all best conjectures, I collect
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 before-hand 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 To win him, or win from him what I can :
In fleshly tabernacle, and human form, And opportunity I here have had
Wandering the wilderness; whatever place, To try thee, sift thee, and confess have found thee Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing Proof against all temptation, as a rock
The Son of God, with God-like force endued Of adarnant, and, as a centre, firm:
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne, To the utmost of mere man both wise and good, And thief of Paradise ! him long of old Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory, Thou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast Have been before contemn'd, and may again.
With all his army ; now thou hast aveng'd Therefore, to know what more thou art than man, Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing Worth naming Son of God by voice from Heaven, Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise, Another method I must now begin."
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent. So saying he caught him up, and, without wing He never more henceforth will dare set foot Of luppogrif, bore through the air sublime, In Paradise to tempt; his snares are broke : Over the wilderness and o'er the plain,
For, though that seat of earthly bliss be fail’d, Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
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 thought the author of those tragedies (at least the Under his feet : for proof, ere this thou feel'st best of them) that go under that name. Gregory Thy wound, (yet not thy last and deadliest wound,) Nazianzen, a father of the church, thought it By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in Hell not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to No triumph: in all her gates Abaddon 'rues write a tragedy, which is entitled Christ suffering. Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe This is mentioned to vindicate tragedy from the To dread the Son of God: he, all unarm'd, small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the Shall chase thee, with the terrour of his voice, account of many it undergoes at this day with From thy demoniac holds, possession foul, other common interludes ; happening, through Thee and thy legions : yelling they shall fly, the poet's errour of intermixing comic stuff with And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial Lest he command them down into the deep, and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath Bound, and to torment sent before their time. been counted absurd; and brought in without Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both worlds, discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And Queller of Satan! on thy glorious work
though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using Now enter; and begin to save mankind.” sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation,
Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek, that which Martial calls an epistle ; in behalf Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refresh'd, of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient Brought on his way with joy; he, unobserv'd, manner, much different from what among us Home to his mother's house private return'd. passes for best, thus much before-band 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 model. ling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the ancients and Italians are rather followed,
as of much more authority and fame. SAMSON AGONISTES,
measure of verse used in the Chorus is of all A DRAMATIC Poem.
sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to Strophe,
Antistrophe, or Epode, which were a kind of ARISTOT. Poet. cap. 6.
stanzas framed only for the music, then used Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπεδαίας, κ. τ. λ.
with the Chorus that sung; not essential to the
poem, and therefore not material ; or, being Tragedia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per miseri- divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be called
cordiam et metum perficiens talium affectuum Allæostropha. Division into act and scene relustrationem.
ferring chiefly to the stage (to which this work
never was intended) is here omitted. Of that sort of Dramatic Poem which is called
It suffices if the whole drama be found not Tragedy.
produced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and
uniformity, and that commonly called the plot, TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, hath whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most indeed but such economy, or disposition of the profitable of all other poems: therefore said by fable as may stand best with versimilitude and Aristotle to be of power by raising pity and fear, decorum ; they only will best judge who are not or terrour, to purge the mind of those and such unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles, and Eulike passions, that is, to temper and reduce ripides, the three tragic poets unequalled yet by them to just measure with a kind of delight, any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to stirred up by reading or seeing those passions write tragedy. The circumscription of time, well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her wherein the whole drama begins and ends, is acown effects to make good his assertion: for so, in cording to ancient rule,' and best example, within physic, things of melancholic hue and quality are the space of twenty-four hours. used against melancholy, sour against sour, salt remove salt humours. Hence philosophers
The Argument. and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the both to adorn and illustrate their discourse.
prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a comApostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy mon workhouse, on a festival day, in the geto insert a verse of Euripides into the text of neral cessation from labour, comes forth into Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33. ; and Paræus, the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole there to sit a while and bemoan his condition. book as a tragedy, into acts distinguished each Where he happens at length to be visited by by a chorus of heavenly harpings and song be- certain friends and equals of his tribe, which tween. Heretofore men in highest dignity have makes the Chorus, who seek to comfort him laboured not a little to be thought able to com- what they can ; then by his old father Manoah, pose a tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the who endeavours the like, and withal tells him elder was no less ambitious, than before of his his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæsar also lastly, that this feast was proclaimed by the Phihad begun his Ajax, but unable to please his listines as a day of thanksgiving for their deown judgment with what he had begun, left it liverance from the hands of Samson, which yet unfinished. Seneca, the philosopher, is by some more troubles him. Manoah then departs to
prosecute his endeavour with the Philistine lords | To grind in brazen fetters under task (strength,
But what is strength without a double share
But to subserve where wisdom bears command ! Sansox.
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal Maxoan, the father of Samson.
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. Dalila, his wife.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will HABAFHA of Gath.
Of highest dispensation, which herein Public Officer.
Haply had ends above my reach to know : Messenger.
Suffices that to me strength is my bane, Chorus of Danites.
And proves the source of all my miseries ;
So many, and so huge, that each apart
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age !
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
And all her various objects of delight To these dark steps, a little further on;
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have easid, For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: Inferior to the vilest now become There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Of man or worm ; the vilest here excel me; Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
They creep, yet see ; I, dark in light, expos'd Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw Within doors, or without, still as a fool, The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
In power of others, never in my own; Cowbolesome draught : but here I feel amends, Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, With day-spring born ; here leave me to respire. -- Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse This day a solemn feast the people hold
Without all hope of day! To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
O first created Beam, and thou great Word, Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
“Let there be light, and light was over all;" Their superstition yields me; hence with leave Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree ! Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
The Sun to me is dark This unfrequented place to find some ease,
And silent as the Moon,
When she deserts the night,
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
To such a tender ball as the eye confin'd,
That she might look at will through every pore ? His God-like presence, and from some great act Then had I not been thus exil'd from light, Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race ?
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable !
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. ( (air Among inhuman foes.
Same. 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. MatchPerhaps my enemies, who come to stare
less in 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 neighbours 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 a while,
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 tumours of a troubled mind, See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd, And are as balm to fester'd wounds. [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 enclos'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 shamne, 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
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 As- Immeasurable strength they might behold calonite
In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean; Fled from his lion ramp ; old warriours 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, soild 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. A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestine, Deject not then so overmuch thyself, In Ramath-lechi, famous to this day. [bore Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides : Then by main force pull'd 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 plens 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 impulse, and therefore urg'd
The marriage on; that by occasion hence
She proving false, the next I took to wife
(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 unparalleld!
She was not the prime cause, but I myself, [ness!) The rarer thy example stands,
Who, vanquish'd with a peal of words, (O weak
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoko
Thou never wast amiss, I bear thee witness :
Yet Israël still serves with all his sons.