صور الصفحة
PDF

His eloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So Virtue, given for lost,
Depress'd and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird

In the Arabian woods embost, Itoo

That no seeond knows nor third,

And lay erewhile a holoeaust,

From out her ashy womb now teem'd,

Revives, reflourisnes, then vigorous most

When most unaetive deem'd; 1705

And, though her body die, her fame survives

A seeular bird ages of lives.

Man. Come, eome; no time for lamentation now,
Nor mueh more eause; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroiekly hath finisn'd 1710
A life heroiek; on his enemies
Fully revenged, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds: to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them ms
Find eourage to lay hold on this oeeasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, whieh is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him as was fear'd,
But favouring and assisting to the end. 1730
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knoek the breast; no weakness, no eontempt,
Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies 1725
Soak'd in his enemies' blood; and from the stream,
With lavers pure and eleansing herbs, wash off
The elotted gore. I, with what speed the while,
lGaza is not in plight to say us nay,)
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends, 1730
To feteh him heneo, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy, and funeral train,
Home to his fathor's house; there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever green, and branehing palm, 1735
With all his trophies hung, and aets mroll'd
In eopious legend, or sweet lyriek song.

1000. 8elf-begotisn bird: The Phnraix.

1700. Embost: Enelosed ln a woed.
1708. Her fame, 4e. The eonstruetion

is this: Virtne, given for lost, iike the
Phtenix eonsumed and now teemed from
out her nshy womb, revives, retiourishes;
and, thongh her bedy die. whieh was the l
ease of 8amson, yet her fame survives a |
Phrcnix many aires: that is, the fame of
virtne survives, outiives, this seeular bird
manv ages.—NEWton.
1713. 8ons of Oxpldor: The Phiiis-

tines, originally of the island Caphtor or

Crote.

1721. AVAino" is hers for tears. The whole of this speeeh of Manooh is in n high degree pleasing and interesting, From this plaee to the eonelusion it gradnally rises in beauty, so as to form one of the most eaptivating parts of this adndrable tragedy.—Dunster.

1730. 1KB send, Ae. This is fonnded on what is said in Jndges xvi. 31, whieh the Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,

And from his memory inflame their breasts

To matehless valour, and adventures high: 1740

The virgins also shall, on feastful days,

Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing

His lot unfortunate in nuptial ehoiee,

From whenee eaptivity and loss of eyes.

Cuo. All is best, though we oft doubt 174$
What the unsearehable dispose
Of Highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the elose.
Oft he seems to hide his faee,

But unexpeetedly returns, 1750
And to his faithful ehampion hath in plaee
Bore witness gloriously; whenee Gaza mourns,
And all that band them to resist
His uneontroulable intent:

His servants he, with new aequist 1754
Of true experienee, from this great event,
With peaee and eonsolation hath dismiss'd,
And ealm of mind, all passion spent.

1757. Witb peaee, Ae . This moral les- "Tragedy is of power, by raising pity

pon in the eonelosion is very Iine, and and fear or terror, to purge the mind of

exeellently snited to the begiuning, For those and sueh like passion.''," Ae . This

Miiton had ehosen for the motto to this he exempiifies here in Manoah and the

pie.-e a passage out of Aristotle, whieh Chorus, after their verious agitations of

may show what was his design in writing passion, aeqnieseing in the Divine dispen

this tragedy, and the sense of whieh he sationB,andtherehyineuleatingamostin

hath expressed in the prefaee, that struetive lesson to the readee.—Newvon.

"8amson Agonisves" is the only tragedy that Milton finished, thongh he sketehed ont the plans of several, and proposed the subjeets of more, in his manuseript preserved in Trinity College, Cambridge: and we may suppose that he was determined to the ehoiee of this partieular subjeet by the similitude of his own eireumstanees to those of 8amson blind and among the Phiiistines. This I eoneeive to be the last of his poetieal pieees; and it is written in the very spirit of the aneients, and eqnals, if not exeeeds, any of the most perfeet tragedies whieh were ever exhibited on the Athenian stage, when Greeee was in its glory. As this work was never intended for the stage, the division into aets and seenes is omitted. Bishop Atterbury had an intention of getting Pope to divide it into aeta and seenes, and of having it aeted at Westminster; but his eommitmen to the Tower pnt an end to that design. It has sinee been brought upoi the stage in the form of an Oratorio; and Handel's musie is never employed to greater advantage, than when it is adapted to Miiton's words, That great artist has done eqnal justiee to onr anthor's "L'Allegro" and "11 Penseroso;" as if the same spirit possessed both masters, and as if the god of musie and of verse was still one and the same.—Newvon.

The nephew of Milton has told us, that he eonld not aseertain the time when this drama was written; bnt it prohably flowed from the heart of the indignant poet soon after his spirit had been wounded by the ealamitous destiny of his friends, to whieh ho alludes with so mueh energy and pathos, in the ehorus, line 052, Ae. lie did not design the drama for a theatre, nor has it the kind of aetion reqnisite for theatrieal interest: bnt in one point of view the "8amson Agonistes" is the most singularly affeeting eomposition that was ever produeed by sensibility of heart and vigonr of imagination. To give it this partieular effeet, we must remember, that the lot of Milton had a marvellous eoineidenee with that of his hero in three remarkable points: first, lbnt we shonld regard this as the most ineonsiderable artiele of resemblaneel ho had been tormented by a beautiful, bnt disaffeetionate and disobedient wife; seeondly, he had been the great ehampion of his eonntry, and as sueh the idol of publie admiration; lastly, he had fallen from that height of unrivalled glory, and had experieneed the most humiliating reverse of fortune. In delineating the greater part of 8amson's sensations under ealamity, he had only to deseribe his own. No dramatist ean have ever eonformed so literally as Hilton to the Ho rattan preeept, 8i vie me flerey &e.I "If yon wish me to weep, yon must first weep yourself;" and if, in reading the "8amson Agonistes," we observe how many passages, expressed with the most energetie sensibility, exhibit to our faney the sufferings and real sentiments of the poet, as well as those of his here, we may derive from this extraordinary eomposition a kind of pathetie delight, that no other drama ean afford; we may applaud the felieity of genins, that eontrived, in this mauner, to relieve a heart overburdened with angnish and indignation, and to pay a half-eoneealed, yet hallowed tribnte, to the memories of dear thongh dishonoured friends, whom the state of the times allowed not the afflieted poet more openly to deplore.—Hayley.

ln "8amson Agonistes" Milton has given us, in English, a perfeet 8ophoelean tragedy, in whieh every minutest peeuliarity of the Attie seene is so faithfully and exaetly reprodueed, that a reader unaeqnainted with the Greek langnage will form a mueh moro just and eorreet notion of elassieal tragedy from reading "8amson," than from studying even the finest and most aeeurate translations of the great dramas of the Athenian theatre. This may appear extravagant, nay, even paradoxieal; bnt we speak advisedly. The Greek tragedies were grand historieal eompositions, fonnded upon the traditional or mythologie legends of the people for whom they were written, and whose religions and patriotie feelings were in the highest degree appealed to by what they eonsidered as a saered and affeeting representation: exaetly as the rude audienee of the Middle Ages had their sensibiiities powerfully exeited by the mysteries. Now the legends of elassieal mythology neeessarily affeet no less than the stories of the 8eripture history; and eonseqnently the "8amson" (being in all points of strueture and arrangement an exaet faesimile of a Greek tragedyl produees upon us, Christians, on effeet infinitely more analogons to that made upon an Athenian by a tragedy of 8ophoeles, than eonld be produeed by our reading the best mere translation of a tragedy of 8ophoeles that the skill of man ever exeented.—8naw.

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »