« PreviousContinue »
Tetrarchs of fire, air, food, and on the Earth, To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne :
Whom well inspir'd the oracle pronounc'd
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth Rather more honor left and more esteem;
Mellifluous streams, that water'd all the schools Me nought advantag'd, missing what I aim'd. Of academics old and new, with those Therefore let pass, as they are transitory,
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect The kingdoms of this world; I shall no more Epicurean, and the Stoic severe; Advise thee; gain them as thou canst, or not. These here revolve, or, as thou lik'st, at home, And thou thyself seem'st otherwise inclin'd Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight; Than to a worldly crown; addicted more These rules will render thee a king complete To contemplation and profound dispute,
Within thyself, much more with empire join'd.” As by that early action may be judg’d,
To whom our Savior sagely thus replied. When, slipping from thy mother's eye, thou went'st " Think not but that I know these things, or think Alone into the temple, there was found
I know them not; not therefore am I short Among the gravest rabbies, disputant
Of knowing what I ought: he, who receives On points and questions fitting Moses' chair, Light from above, from the fountain of light, Teaching, not taught. The childhood shows the man. No other doctrine needs, though granted true; As morning shows the day: be famous then But these are false, or little else but dreams, By wisdom; as thy empire must extend,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm. So let extend thy mind o'er all the world
The first and wisest of them all professid
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the world began, and how man fel: Or hospitable, in her sweet recess,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending? City or suburban, studious walks and shades. Much of the soul they talk, but all awry, See there the olive-grove of Academe,
And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves Plato's retirement, where the Attic bird
All glory arrogate, to God give none; Trills her thick-warbled notes the summer long; Rather accuse him under usual names, There flowery hill Hymettus, with the sound Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite Of bees' industrious murmur, oft invites
of mortal things. Who therefore seeks in these To studious musing ; there Ilissus rolls
True wisdom, finds her not: or, by delusion, His whispering stream: within the walls, then view Far worse, her false resemblance only meets, The schools of ancient sages; his who bred An empty cloud. However, many books, Great Alexander to subdue the world,
Wise men have said, are wearisome ; who reads Lyceum there, and painted Stoa next:
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not There shalt thou hear and learn the secret power A spirit and judgment equal or superior, Of harmony, in tones and numbers hit
|(And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?) By voice or hand; and various-measurd verse, Uncertain and unseuled still remains, Æolian charms and Dorian lyric odes,
Deep vers'd in books, and shallow in himself,
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge ; .
With music or with poem, where so soon Of moral prudence, with delight receiv'd
As in our native language, can I find In brief sententious precepts, while they treat That solace ? All our law and story strew'd Of fate and chance, and change in human life, With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribid, High actions and high passions best describing: Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon Thence to the famous orators repair,
That pleas'd so well our victor's ear, declare Those ancient, whose resistless eloquence
That rather Greece from us these arts deriv'd; Wielded at will that fierce democra'ie,
III imitated, while they loudest sing Shook the arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece The vices of their deities, and their own.
In sable, hymn, or song, so personating
From many a horrid rift, abortive pour'd
In ruin reconcild: nor slept the winds
Within their stony caves, but rush'd abroad
On the vex'd wilderness, whose tallest pines,
Or torn up sheer. Il wast thou shrouded then,
Unshaken! Nor yet staid the terror 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 howld, some yell’d, some The top of eloquence; 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 taught, and better teaching Came forth, with pilgrim steps, in amice grey; The solid rules of civil goverement,
Who with her radiant finger still'd the roar
of thunder, chas'd the clouds, and laid the winds,
Had cheer'd the face of Earth, and dried the wet
So spake the Son of God; but Satan, now Who all things now behold more fresh and green,
Since neither wealth nor honor, arms nor arts, To gratulate the sweet return of morn.
Was absent, after all his mischief done,
The prince of darkness; glad would also seem
And mad despite to be so oft repell’d.
Him walking on a sunny hill he found,
“ Fair morning yet betides thee, Son of God,
After a dismal night: I heard the wrack,
Was distant; and these flaws, though morials fear
As dangerous to the pillar'd frame of Heaven,,
Or to the Earth's dark basis underneath,
Are to the main as inconsiderable
Yet, as being oft-times noxious where they light
On man, beast, plant, wasteful and turbulent,
Like turbulencies in the affairs of men,
Over whose heads they rvar, 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 nowhere told ?
Thou shalt be what thou art ordain'd, no doubt;
If thou observe not this, be sure to find,
Whereof this ominous night, that clos’d thee round, There stand, if thou wilt stand ; to stand upright
Will ask thee skill; I to thy Father's house
“ 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.
With Jove's Alcides, and, oft foil'd, still rose,
To whom the fiend, now swollen with rage, replied. Throttled at length in the air, expir'd and fell;
So, after many a foil, the tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride,
Fell whence he stood to see his victor fall :
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempi the Son of God.
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
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
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over temptation and the tempter proud.
• True image of the Father; whether thron'd
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,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adarn and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Savior, art come down to re-install,
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be
Of tempter and temptation without sear.
But thou, infernal serpent! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down had begun, left it unfinished. Seneca, the philoso Under 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 small esteem, or rather infamy, which From thy denoniac brolds, possession foul, in the account of many it undergoes at this day Thee and thy legions : yelling they shall dy, 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 refresh'd, 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 Cho
rus 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 aro
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 stan. Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας, 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 et here omitted. metum perficiens talium affectuum lustrationein.
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 a 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 yel u:jable to please his own judgment with what he more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endeavor with the Philistine lords With this Heaven-gified 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, yot liable to fall
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subservo where wisdom bears command ! Manoas 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 ;
Would ask a life to wail ; but chief of all,
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'd 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,
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree!
And silent as the Moon,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. But rush upon me thronging, and present Since light so necessary is to life, Times past, what once I was, and what am now. And almost life itself, if it be true 0, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold That light is in the soul, 'Twice by an angel, who at last in sight
She all in every part; why was the sight Of both my parents all in flames ascended To such a tender ball as the eye confind, 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 paris 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 enemies the scorn and gaze ;
Buried, yet not exempt, To grind in brazen fetlers under task
By privilege of death and burial,