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Sarnam'd Peripatetics, and the sect
| Will far be found unworthy to compare Epicurean, and the Stoic severe;
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
.To whoin our Saviour sagely thus replied. By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
The top of eloquence; statists indeed,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so, The next to fabling fell, and smooth conceits ; What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities fat; A third sort doubted all things, though plain These only with our law best form a king.” Others in virtue plac'd felicity,
[sense; So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now Bat virtue join'd with riches and long life; Quite at a loss, (for all his darts were spent,) In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease; Thus to our Saviour with stern brow replied. The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
“Since neither wealth nor honour, arms nor By him call'd virtue; and his virtuous man,
arts, Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing Kingdom nor empire pleases thee, nor aught Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
By me propos'd in life contemplative As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Or active, tended on by glory or fame, Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life, What dost thou in this world? The wilderness Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he For thee is fittest place; I found thee there, For all his tedious talk is but vain boast, [can, And thither will return thee; yet remember Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
What I foretel thee, soon thou shalt have cause Alas! what can they teach and not mislead, To wish thou never hadst rejected, thus Ignorant of themselves, of God much more, Nicely or cautiously, my offer'd aid, sease And how the world began, and how man fell Which would have set thee in short time with Degraded by himself, on grace depending? On David's throne, or throne of all the world, Much of the soul they talk, but all awry, Now at full age, fulness of time, thy season And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves When prophecies of thee are best fulfillid, All glory arrogate, to‘God give none;
Now contrary, if I read aught in Heaven, Rather accuse him under usual names,
Or Heaven write aught of fate, by what the stars Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite .. Voluminous, or single characters, Of mortal things.' Who therefore seeks in these } In their conjunction met, give me to spell, True wisdom, finds her not; or, by delusion, Sorrows, and labours, opposition, hate Par worse, her false resemblance only meets, Attend thee, scorns, reproaches, injuries, An empty cloud. However, many books, Violence and stripes, and lastly cruel death; Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads A kingdom they portend thce, but what kingdom, Incessantly, and to his reading brings not | Real or allegoric, I discern not ; A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
Nor when; eternal sure, as without end, (And what he brings what needs he elsewhere Without beginning; for no date prefix'd Uncertain and unsettled still remains, (seek?) Directs me in the starry rubric set." Deep vers'd in books, and shallow in himself, So saying he took, (for still he knew his power Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
Not yet expir'd,) and to the wilderness And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge ; Brought back the Son of God, and left him there, As children gathering pebbles on the shore. Feigning to disappear. Darkness now rose, Or, if I would delight my private hours
As day-light sunk, and brought in lowering With music or with poem, where so soon
night, As in our native language, can I find
Her shadowy offspring; unsubstantial both, That solace ? All our law and story strew'd
Privation mere of light and absent day. With hymns, our psalms with artful terms in Our Saviour meek, and with untroubled mind scrib'd,
After his aery jaunt, though hurried sore, Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon Hungry and cold, betook him to his rest, That pleas'd so well our victor's ear, declare Wherever, under some concourse of shades, That rather Greece from us these arts deriv'd;
Whose branching arms thick intertwin'd might Ill imitated, while they loudest sing
shield The vices of their deities, and their own,
From dews and damps of night his shelter'd head; In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
| But, shelter'd, slept in vain ; for at his head er gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame. The tempter watch'd, and soon with ugly dreams Remove their swelling epithets, thick laid
Disturb'd his sleep. And either tropic now As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Gan thunder, and both ends of Heavez; ibe Thin sown with augbt of profit or delight,
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd
Not when it must, but when'it may be best :
| What I foretold thee, many a hard assay
And staid not, but in brief him answer'd thus: Unshaken ! Nor yet staid the terrour there; “Me worse than wet thou find'st not; other Infernal ghosts and hellish furies round
(none; Environ'd thee, some howl'd, some yell’d, some Those terrours, which thou speak'st of, did me shriek'd,
| I never fear'd they could, though noising loud Some bent at thee their fiery darts, while thou And threatening high: what they can do as signs Sat'st unappall'd in calm and sinless peace! | Betokening, or ill-boding, I contemn Thus passed the night so foul, till Morning fair As false portents, not sent from God, but thee; Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice gray; Who, knowing I shall reign past thy preventing, Who with her radiant finger still'd the roar | Obtrud'st thy offer'd aid, that I, accepting, Of thunder, chas'd the clouds, and laid the At least might seem to hold all power of thee, i winds,
| Ambitious spirit! and wouldst be thought my And grisly spectres, which the fiend had rais'd
God; To tempt the Son of God with terruurs dire, And storm'st refus'd, thinking to terrify And now the Sun with more effectual beams Me to thy will! desist, (thou art discern'd Had cheer'd the face of Earth, and dried the wet And toil'st in vain,) nor me in vaip molest.” From drooping plant, or dropping tree; the To whom the fiend, now swolo with rage, rebirds,
plied. Who all things now behold more fresh and " Then hear, O son of David, virgin-boro, After a night of storm so ruinous,
For son of God to me is yet in doubt; Clear'd up their choicest notes in bush and spray, Of the Messiah I had heard foretold To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
By all the prophets; of thy birth at length, Nor yet, amidst this joy and brightest morn, Announc'd by Gabriel, with the first I knew, Was absent, after all his mischief done,
And of the angelic song in Bethlehem field, The prince of darkness; glad would also seem On thy birth-night that sung thee Saviour born Of this fair change, and to our Saviour came; From that tiine seldom have I ceas'd to eye Yet with no new device, (they all were spent,) Thy infancy, thy childhood, and thy youth, Rather by this his last affront resolv'd,
Thy manhood last, though yet in private bred; Desperate of better course, to vent his rage Till at the ford of Jordan, whither all And mad despite to be so oft repell’d.
Flock to the Baptist, I, among the rest, Him walking on a sunny bill he found,
(Though not to be baptiz'd,) by voice from Back'd on the north and west by a thick wood;
Heaven Out of the wood he starts in wonted shape, Heard thee pronounc'd the Son of God belor'd. And in a careless mood thus to him said.
Thenceforth I thought thee worth my nearer vier “Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God, And narrower scrutiny, that I might learn After a dismal night : I heard the wrack, In what degree or meaning thou art call'd As earth and sky would mingle; but myself The Son of God; which bears no single sense. Was distant; and these flaws, though mortals | The Son of God i also am, or was; fear them .
And if I was, I am; relation stands; As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of Heaven, All men are sons of God; yet thee I thought Or to the Earth's dark basis underneath,
In some respect far higber so declar'd: Are to the main as inconsiderable
Therefore I watch'd thy footsteps from that hour, And harmless, if not wholesome, as a sneeze And follow'd thee still on to this waste wild; To man's less universe, and soun are gone ; Where, by all best conjectures, I collect Yet, as being oft times noxious where they light Thou art to be my fatal enemy: On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent, Good reason then, if I before-hand seek Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
To understand my adversary, who
By parl or composition, truce or league,
To try thee, sift thee, and confess bave found thee The perfect season cffer'd with my aid
Proof against all temptation, as a rock To win thy destin'd seat, but wilt prolong
Of adamant, and, as a centre, firm ; All to the push of fate, pursue thy way
To the utmost of mere man both wise and good, Of gaining David's throne, no man knows when, Not more; for honours, riches, kingdoms, glory, For both the when and how is no where told? Have been before contemn'd, and may again. Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt ; | Therefore, to know what more thou art than man, Por angels have proclainr'd it, but concealing | Wortb naming Sou of God by voice from Heaven, The time and means. Each act is rightliest done Another method I must know begin."
So saying he caught him up, and, without wing Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing of hippogrif, bore through the air sublime, Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise, Over the wilderness and o'er the plain,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent. Till underneath them fair Jerusalem,
He never more henceforth will dare set foot The holy city, lifted high her towers,
In Paradise to tempt ; his snares are broke : And higher yet the glorious temple rear'd For, though that seat of earthly bliss be fail'd, Her pile, far off appearing like a mount A fairer Paradise is founded now Of alabaster, topt with golden spires :
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou, There, on the highest pinnacle, he set
A Saviour, art come down to re-install, The Son of God; and added thus in scorn. Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall "There stand, if thou wilt stand; to stand of tempter and temptation without fear. [be, upright
But thou, iofernal serpent ! shalt not long Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house Rule in the clouds like an autumnal star, Have brought thee, and highest plac'd : highest Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod is best :
down Now show thy progeny; if not to stand, Under his feet : for proof, ere this thou feelst Cast thyself down; safely, if Son of God : Thy wound, (yet not thy last and deadliest For it is written, "He will give command
wound,) Concerning thee to his angels, in their hands By this repulse receiv'd, and hold'st in Hell They shall up lift thee, lest at any time No triumph : in all her gates Abaddon rues Thou chance to dash thy foot against a stone." » Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe
To whom thus Jesus: “ Also it is written, To dread the Son of God : he, all unarm'd, * Tempt not the Lord thy God." » He said, and Shall chase thee, with the terrour of his voice, stood :
From thy demoniac holds, possession foul, But Satan, smitten with amazement fell. Thee and thy legions : yelling they shall Ay, As when Earth's son Antæus, (to compare And beg to hide them in a herd of swine, Small things with greatest,) in Irassa strove Lest he command them down into the deep, With Jove's Alcides, and, oft foil'd, still rose, Bound, and to torment sent before their time. Receiving from his mother Earth new strength, Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both worlds, Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple join’d,
Queller of Satan! on thy glorious work Throttled at length in the air, expird and fell; Now enter; and begin to save mankind.” So, after many a foil, the tempter proud, Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek, Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride, Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refresh'd, Fell whence he stood to see bis victor fall: Brought on his way with joy; he, unobservd, And as that Theban monster, that propos'd Home to his mother's house private return'd. Her riddle, and him who solv'd it not devour'd, That once found out and solv'd, for grief and spite Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian steep ; So, struck with dread and anguish, fell the fiend, And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
SAMSON AGONISTES, (Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success,)
A DRAMATIC Poem.
Aristot, Poet. cap. 6.
Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπεδαίας, και. τ. λ.
Tragedia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
misericordiam et meteum perficiens talium On a green bank, and set before him spread
affectuum lustrationem. A table of celestial food, divine Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life,
OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM which is And, from the fount of life, ambrosial drink,
TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, Dr thirst; and, as he fed, angelic quires
hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
most profitable of all other poems: therefore said Over temptation and the tempter proud.
“True image of the Father ; whether thron'd Of that sort of dramatic poem, called Tragedy.) In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Milton, who was inclin'd to Puritanism, had good Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrin'd reason to think, that the publication of his SamIn fleshly tabernacle, and human form, son Agonistes would be very offensive to his bre. Wandering the wilderness; whatever place, thren, who held poetry, and particularly that of Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing the dramatic kind, in the greatest abhorrence. l'he Son of God, with God-like force endued And, upon this account, it is probable, that, in Against the attempter of thy Father's throne, order to excuse himself from having engaged in Ind thief of Paradise ! him long of old
this proscribed and forbidden species of writing, l'hou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast he thought it expedient to prefix to his play a With all bis army; now thou bast aveng'd formal defence of tragedy. WARTON.
by Aristotle' to be of power by raising pity and fable as may stand best with versimilitude and fear, ar terrour, to purge the mind of those and decorum ; they only will best judge who are not such like passions, that is, to temper and reduce unacquainted with #schylus, Sophocles, and Esthem to just measure with a kind of delight, ripides, the three tragic poets unequalled yet by stirred up by reading or seeing those passions any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her write tragedy. The circumscription of time, own effects to make good his assertion: for so, in wherein the whole drama begins and ends, is ac physic, things of melancholic hue and quality cording to ancient rule, and best example, within are used against melancholy, sour against sour, the space of twenty-four hours. salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch,
THE ARGUMENT. and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the Apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy prison at Gaza, there to labour as in a comto insert a verse of Euripides into the text of mon workhouse, on a festival day, in the geHoly Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33; and Paræus, neral cessation from labour, comes forth into cominenting on the Revelation, divides the whole the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retirbook as a tragedy, into acts distinguished each ed, there to sit a while and bemoan his condiby a chorus of heavenly harpings and song be tion. Where he happens at length to be vi. tween. Heretofore men in highest dignity have sited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, laboured not a little to be thought able to com which makes the Chorus, who seek to compose a tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the fort him what they cau; then by his old faelder was no less ambitious, than before of his ther Manoah, who endeavours the like, and attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæsar also withal tells him his purpose to procure his lihad begun bis Ajax, but unable to please his berty by ransom; lastly, that this feast was own judgment with what he had begun, left it proclaimed by the Philistines as a day of unfinished. Seneca, the philosopher, is by some thanksgiving for their deliverance from the thought the author of those tragedies (at least the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles best of them) that go under that name. Gregory him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his Nazianzen, a father of the church, thought it endeavour with the Philistine Jords for Samnot unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to son's redemption; who in the mean while is write a tragedy, which is entitled Christ suffering. visited by other persons; and lastly by a pubThis is mentioned to vindicate tragedy from the lic officer to require bis coming to the feast small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the before the lords and people, to play or show his account of many it undergoes at this day with strength in their presence; he at first refuses, other common interludes; happening, through dismissing the public officer with absolute de the poet's errour of intermixing comic stuff with nial to come; at length, persuaded inwardly tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing tri that this was from God, he yields to go along vial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious with him, who came now the second time with hath been counted absurd; and brought in with great threatenings to fetch him: the Chorus out discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns And though ancient tragedy use no prologue, full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son's yet using sometimes, in case of self-defence, or deliverance: in the midst of which discourse explanation, that which Martial calls an epistle; an Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the and afterward more distinctly, relating the ancient manner, much different from what among catastrophe, what Samson had done to the us passes for best, thus much before-hand may Philistines, and by accident to himself; where be epistled; that Chorus is here introduced with the tragedy ends. 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 fol
THE PERSONS, lowed, as of much more authority and fame. SAMSON. The measure of verse used in the Chorus is of all MANOAH, the father of Samson. sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or DALILA, bis wife. rather Apolelymenon, without regard had to HARAPHA of Gath. Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epode, which were a Public Officer. kind of stanzas framed only for the music, then Messenger. used with the Chorus that sung; not essential to Chorus of Danites. the poem, and therefore not material; or, being divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be called
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza. Allæostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted. It suffices if the whole drama be found not
Samson, [Attendant leading him.] produced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand uniformity, and that commonly called the plot, To these dark steps, a little further on; whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: indeed but such economy, or disposition of the There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Inferior to the vilest now become Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me; Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, expos'd The air imprison'd also, close and damp, To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, Within doors, or without, still as a fool, The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and
In power of others, never in my own; 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?
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave,
Since light so necessary is to life.
She all in every part; why was the sight
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ? As in a fiery column charioting
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus'd, His God-like presence, and from some great act That she might look at will through every pore? Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Then had I not been thus exil'd from light, Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd
As in the land of darkness, yet in light, As of a person separate to God,
To live a life half dead, a living death, Design'd for great expluits; if I must die And buried; but, O yet more miserable ! Betray'd, captív'd, and both my eyes put out,
Myself my sepulchre, a moving gruve; Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
Buried, yet not exempt,
But made hereby obnoxious more
But who are these? for with joint pace I hear Himself in bonds under Philistjan yoke:
The tread of many feet steering this way; Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare Divine prediction; what if all foretold
At my affliction, and perhaps to insult, Had been fulfilld but through mine own default, Their daily practice to afflict me more. Whom bave I to complain of but myself?
[Enter] Chorus. : Who this high gift of strength committed to me, Chor. This, this is he; softly a while, In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me, | Let us not break in upon him: Under the seal of silence could not keep, O change beyond report, thought, or belief! But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd, O'ercome with importunity and tears.
With languish'd head unpropt, O impotence of mind, in body strong !
As one past hope, abandon'd, But what is strength without a double share And by himself given over ; Of wisdom? vast, unwieldy, burdensome,
In slavish hahit, ill-fitted weeds Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
O'er-worn and soil'd; By weakest subtleties, not made to rule, Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he, But to subserve where wisdom bears command ! That heroic, that renown'd, . God, when he gave me strength, to show withal Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd" How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could But peace, I must not quarrel with the will
withstand ; Of highest dispensation, which herein
Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid; Haply had ends above my reach to know : Ran on embattled armies clad in iron; Saffices that to me strength is my bane,
And, weaponless himself,
Of brazen shield and spear,the hammer'd cuirass,
When, insupportably his foot advanc'd,