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MANOAH, the Father of Samson.
DALIL A, his Wife.
HARAP HA of Gath.

Public Officer.

Chorus of Danites,

The SCENE before the Prison in Gaza.



Little onward lend thy guiding hand

To these dark steps, a little further on;
For yonder bank hath choice of sun or Thade :
There I am wont to fit, when


chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil,

5 Daily' in the common prison else injoin'd me, Where I a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw The air imprison'd also, close and damp, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends,


Samson Agonistes The subject but To these dark steps,] So Tiresias a very indifferent one for a drama- in Euripides, Phæniffæ ver. 841. tic fable. However he has made the best of it. He seems to have

Ηγε τροπαροιθε θυγατερ, ως τυφλω wodi &c.

Richardson. chosen it for the sake of the fatire on bad wives. Warburton. 3. For yonder bank] The scene

Samson Agonistes] That is Sam- of this tragedy is much the same fon an actor, Samfon reprefented as that of the Οιδιπες επι κολωνω in a play. Aywisns, ludio, histrio, in Sophocles, where blind Oedipus actor scenicus.

is conducted in like manner and Samson] Milton after the ex- represented fitting upon a little hill ample of the Greek tragedians, near Athens: but yet I think there whom he professes to imitate, opens is scarcely a single thought the same his drama with introducing one of in the two pieces, and I am sure its principal personages explaining the Greek tragedy can have no the story upon which it is founded. pretence to be esteem'd better, but

Thyer. only because it is two thousand 1. A little onward lend thy guiding years older.



13. To

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The breath of Heav'n fresh blowing, pure and sweet,
With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.
This day a solemn feast the people hold
To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Laborious works ; unwillingly this rest
Their superstition yields me; hence with leave 15
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body fome, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that like a deadly swarm
Of hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heav'n foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended

25 From


13. To Dagon their sea-idol,] For and the second time the Angel Milton both here and in the Pa- ascended in the flame of the altar. radise Loft follows the opinion of Judges XIII. 3. 11, 20. those, who describe this idol as 28. and from some great act,] part man, part fish. I. 462. Mr. Sympson says that the true Dagon his name, sea monster, reading is upward man

as from some

great And downward fish.

but the poet would hardly fay As in 24. Twice by an Angel,] Once a fiery column &c as from some to his mother, and again to his fa- great act &c; and therefore we may ther Manoah and his mother both, retain and, and as may be under



From off the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His god-like presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd

As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits ; if I must die
Betray'd, captív'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task

35 With this Heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver ; Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him

40 Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with Naves,


stood tho' not express’d. As in a syllable captiv'd: but our old aufiery column charioting &c, and as thors give it the same pronunciafrom some great act c.

tion as Milton. Spenser. Faery 33. Betray'd, captív'd,] It hould Queen. B. 2. Cant. 4. St. 16. be pronounced with the accent

Thus when as Guyon Furor had upon the last syllable, as after

caprív'd: wards ver. 694.

and B. 3. Cant. 1. St. 2. To dogs and fowls a prey, or But the caprív'd Acrafia he sent: else captiv'd.

and Fairfax Cant. 19. I think we commonly pronounce Free was Erminia, but captiv'd it with the accent upon the first

her heart.

P 3

53. But

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Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke:
Yet stay, let me not ralhly call in doubt
Divine prediction; what if all foretold
Had been fulfilld but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but myself?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg’d, how easily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
O’ercome with importunity and tears.
O impotence of mind, in body strong !
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom, vast, unwieldly, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall

55 By weakest subtleties, not made to rule, But to subserve where wisdom bears command ! God, when he gave me strength, to show withal How flight the gift was, hung it in my hair. . But peace, I must not quarrel with the will



53. But what is strength without Nos animo; quantoque ratem a double share

qui temperat &c. Jortin. Of wisdom, &c] Ovid. Met. XII]. Hor. Od. III. IV. 65, 363 Tu vires fine mente geris Vis confilî expers mole ruit sua. tu tantum corpore prodes,


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