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And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
(Joyless triumphals of his hop'd success)
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of Angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans receiv'd him soft
From his uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air;
Then, in a flowery valley, set him down
On a green bank, and set before him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits, fetch'd from the tree of life,
And, from the fount of life, ambrosial drink,
That soon refresh'd him wearied, and repair’d
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impair’d,
Or thirst; and, as he fed, angelick quire
Sung heavenly anthems of his victory
Over Temptation and the Tempter proud.

True image of the Father ; whether thron'd
In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving; or, remote from Heaven, enshrin'd
In fleshly tabernacle, and human form,
Wandering the wilderness; whatever place,
Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with God-like force endued
Against the attempter of thy Father's throne,
And thief of Paradise! Him long of old
Thou didst debel,i and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now thou hast aveng'd
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regain'd lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.

1. Debel:' defeitt,

He never more henceforth will dare set foot
In Paradise to tempt; his snares are broke :
For, though that seat of earthly bliss be fail'd,
A fairer Paradise is founded now
For Adam and his chosen sons, whom thou,
A Saviour, art come down to re-install,
Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be,
Of Tempter and Temptation without fear.
But thou, infernal Serpent ! shalt not long
Rule in the clouds; like an autumnal star,
Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down
Under his feet : for proof, ere this thou feel'st
Thy wound (yet not thy last and deadliest wound),
By this repulse receiv’d, and hold'st in Hell
No triumph: in her gates Abaddon1 rues
Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe
To dread the Son of God: He, all unarm’d,
Shall chase thee, with the terrour of his voice,
From thy demoniack holds, possession foul,
Thee and thy legions; yelling they shall fly,
And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,
Lest he command them down into the deep,
Bound, and to torment sent before their time.-
Hail, Son of the Most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan! On thy glorious work
Now enter; and begin to save mankind.

Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek,
Sung victor, and, from heavenly feast refresh’d,
Brought on his way with joy; he, unobserv'd, ,
Home to his mother's house private return'd.

1. Abaddon :' the bottomless pit.

SAMSON AGONISTES.

A Dramatic Poem.

Tragædia est imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam et metum perficiens talium

affectuum lustrationem.

OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM WHICH IS CALLED

TRAGEDY.

TRAGEDY, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power, by raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like passions; that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is 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, bour against sour, salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other gravest writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The Apostle Paul himself thought it not unworthy to insert a verse of Euripides into the text of Holy Scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 33; and Paræus, commenting on the Revelation, divides the whole book, as a tragedy, into acts, distinguished cach by a chorus of heavenly harpings and soug between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have laboured not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that honour Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, than before of his attaining to the tyranny. Augustus Cæsar also had begun his Ajax, but, unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinished. Seneca, the philosopher, is by some thought the author of those tragedies (at least the best of them) that go under that name. Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not unbesceming the sanctity of his person to write a

tragedy, which is entitled Christ Suffering. This is mentioned to vindicate tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common interludes; happening through the poet's error of intermixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath been counted absurd; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And though Ancient Tragedy use no prologue, yet using sometimes, in case of self-defence, or explanation, that which Martial calls an epistle; in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much before-hand may be epistled; that Chorus is here introduced after the Greek manner, not anciently 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 followed, as of much more authority and fame. The measure of verse used in the Chorus is of all sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelymenon," without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epode, which were a kind of stanzas framed only for the music, then used with the Chorus that sung; not essential to the poem, and therefore not material; or, being divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be called Allaeostropha. 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 produced beyond the fifth act. Of the style and uniformity, and that commonly called the plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such oeconomy or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verisimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with MEschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic poets unequalled yet by any, and the best rule to all who endeavour to write tragedy. The circumscription of time, wherein the whole drama begins and ends, is, according to ancient rule, and best example, within the space of twenty-four hours.

1 “Apolelymenon: i.e., free from all metrical restraint.

SAMSON AGONISTES.

THE PERSONS. SAMSON.

HARAPHA, of Gath.
MANOAH, the Father of

Public Officer.
Samson.

Messenger.
DALILA, his Wife.

Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.

THE ARGUMENT.

Samson, made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to labour

as in a common workhouse, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labour, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retired, there to sit awhile 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 endeavours the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransom; lastly, that this feast was proclaimed 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 prosecute his endeavour 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 threatenings 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, confused at first, and afterward more distinctly, relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.

SAMSON, Attendant leaving him.
A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
To these dark steps, a little further on;

1 - Agonistes : ' i. e., the Athlete.

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