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Samson inade captive, blind, and now in the prison

at Gaza, there to labor as in a common work-
house, on a festival day, in the general cessation
from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a
place nigh, somewhat retir'd, there to fit a while
and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at
length to be visited by certain friends and equals
of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek
to comfort him what they can ; then by his old
father Manoah, who endevors the like, and withal
tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by
ransom ; lastly, that this feast was proclam'd by
the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their
deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet
more troubles him. Manoah then departs to pro-
secute his endevor with the Philistine lords for
Samson's redemption ; who in the mean while is
visited by other persons; and lastly by a public
officer to require his coming to the feast before
the lords and people, to play or show his strength
in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the
public officer with absolute denial to come ; at
length persuaded inwardly that this was from
God, he yields to go along with him, who came
now the second time with great threatnings to
fetch him: The Chorus yet remaining on the place
Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere
long his son's deliverance : in the midst of which
discourse an Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly
at first, and afterward more distinctly relating the
catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Phi-
listines, and by accident to himself; wherewith
the tragedy ends.
Vol. 1.



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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 fun or shade :
There I am wont to sit, 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 thefe dark steps,] So Tiresas 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 στροπαροιθε θυγατερ, ως τυφλω σοδι &c.

Richardson. chosen it for the sake of the satire 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, Samson represented as that of the Ordines ETT Xomwa in a play. Aywusns, ludio, histrio, in Sophocles, where blind Oedipus actor fcenicus.

is conducted in like manner and Samson] Milton after the ex- represented sitting 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 A little onward lend thy guiding years older. band

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13. 7

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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

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13. T. Dagon their sea-idol,] For and the second time the Angel Milton both here and in the Pa. afcended in the flame of the altar. radise Lost follows the opinion of Judges XIII. 3. 11, 20. those, who describe this idol as


and from some great act,] part man, part fish. I. 462. Mr. Sympson says that the true Dagon his name, fea monster,

reading is upward man

- as from some

great And downward fish.

but the poet would hardly say As in 24. Twice by an Angel,] Once a fiery column &c as from some s 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


act :


From off the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His god-like presence, and from some great

Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd

30 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? Oglorious 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 Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with llaves,



stood tho' not express’d. As in a syllable cáptiv'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 should Queen. B. 2. Cant. 4. St. 16. be pronounced with the accent

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

captiu'd : wards ver. 694.

and B. 3. Cant. I. St. 2. To dogs and fowls a prey, or But the captív'd Acrasia he sent: else caprív’d.

and Fairfax Cant. 19. I think we commonly pronounce

Free was Erminia, but captív'd it with the accent upon the first

her heart.

P 3

53. But

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