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A DRAMATIC POEM.
Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπεδαίας, &c. Ariftot. Poet. Cap. 6.
“ affectuum luftrationem."
OF THAT SORT OF DRAMATIC POEM WHICH IS CALLED TRAGEDY.
TRAGEDY, as it was anciently compos’d, hath been ever held the gravelt, moralelt
, and most profitable of all other poems: therefore said by Aristotle to be of power, raising pity and fear, or terror, to purge the mind of those and such like pasions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirr'd up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion : for fo in phyfic things of melancholic hue and quality are us'd against melancholy, four against four, salt to remove falt humors. Hence philosophers and other gravelt writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets, both to adorn and illustrate their discourse. The Apottle 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 distinguish'd each by a chorus of heavenly harpings and song between. Heretofore men in highest dignity have labor'd not a little to be thought able to compose a tragedy. Of that honor Dionysius the elder was no less ambitious, than before of his attaining to the tyranny. Auguftus Cæsar also had begun liis Ajax, but, unable to please his own judgment with what he had begun, left it unfinish’d. Seneca the philofopher is by some thought the author of those tragedies (at least the best of them) that so under that name. Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not un. beleeming the fanétity of his person to write a tragedy, which is intitled Christ suffering. This is mention’d 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 ; hap’ning through the poets error of interinixing comic stuff with tragic sadness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all judicious hath been counted abfurd ; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using fometimes, in case of self-defense, or explanation, that which Martial calls an epiftle ; in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for belt, thus much before-hand may be epiftled ; that chorus is here introduc'd after the Greek manner, not ancient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. in the modeling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the Ancients and Italians are rather follow'd, as of much more authority and fame. The measure of verse us’d in the chorus is of all sorts, call’d by the Greeks Monoftrophic, or rather A polelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe, or Epod, which were a kind of stanzas fram'd only for the music, then us’d with the thorus that sung ; not effential to the poem, and therefore not material; or, being divided into stanzas or pauses, they may be call’d Allæostropha. Divifion into act and scene referring chiefly to the itage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
It suffices if the whole drama be found not produc'd beyond the fifth act. Of the file and uniformity, and that commonly call'd the plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such economy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with verfimilitude and decorum; they only will beft judge who are not unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic poets unequal'd yet by any, and the best rule to all who endevor 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.
Samson made captive, blind, and now in the prison at Gaza, there to labor as in a
common workhouse, on a festival day, in the general cellation 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 Manoali, who endeavors the like, and withal tells him his Jast purpose to procure his liberty by rapsome ; lastly, that this feast was proclam'd by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving from their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philiftine 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 firit refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length pirfuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who cane 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 midit of which discouse an Hebrew comes in halle, confusedly at firii, and afterward more distinctly relating the catastrophe, what Samson had done to the Philistines, and by accident to himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
MANOAH, the Father of Samfon.
The Scene before she Frifon in Gu24.
But suih upon me ihronging, and present
Times past, what once I was, and what am one To thefe dark steps, a little further on; O wharefore was iny birth from Heav'n foretold Fr. yonder bank hath choice of fun or trade : Twice by an Angel, who at lait in light There I am wonit to fit, when any chance
Of both my parents all in flames ascended 25 Relieves me from my task of fervile toil, 5 From off the altar, where an offering boro'd, Daily' in the common prison elsc injoin'd me, As in a fiery column charioting Wherel, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw His god-like prefence, and from some great ad The air imprison'd also, close and damp,
Or bencfit reveal'd to Abraham's race? Unwholefrme draught: but here I full amends, Why was niy breeding order'd and prescribed 99 The breath of Heav'n froh blowing, pure and As of a person fi parate to God, (wect,
Delign'd for great exploits; if I must die With day-spring bord: here leave me to respire. Betray'd, captiv'd, and both my eyes put oti, This day a folemo feast the people hold
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze; To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
To grind in brazen letters under task Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
With this Heav'n.gifted strength? O glozx-5 Their superstition yields nie; hence with lave 15 Itrength, Retiring from the popular noise, I feek
Put to the labor of a beast, dchas'd This unfrequented place to find some ease, Lower than bond-Dave! Promise was that I Ease to the body fome, none to the mind
Should Israel from Philiftian yoke deliver ; From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm Ask for this great deliverer now, and find bim Of hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone, 20 Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with faves,
Himself in bonds under Philiftian yoke :
To all the miseries of life, Vee stay, let me not rafhly call in doubt
Life in captivity Divine prediction; what if all forctold
Among inhuman foes, Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, But who are these? for with joint pace I hear 110 Whom have I to complain of but myself? 46 | The tread of many feet fteering this way; Who this high gift of trength committed to me, Perhaps my enemies who come to stare In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me, At my afiliation, and perhaps t'insult Under the seal of Glence could not keep,
Their daily practice to ailliet me more. But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
Choz. This, this is he; softly a while, 115 O'ercome with importunity and tears.
Let us not break in upon him; O impotence of mind, in body strong!
O change beyond report, thought, or belief! But what is strength without a double share See how he lies at random, carelesly diffus'd, Of wisdom, vast, unwieldy, burdensome, With languish'd head unpropt, Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
55 As one past hope, abandon'd, By weakest subuleties, not made to rule,
And by himself given over;
125 Of highest dispensation, which herein
Irresistible Samion? whom unarm'd Haply bad ends above my reach to know : No itrength of man, or fierccit wild beast could Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
withitand? And proves the source of all my miseries; Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid, So many, and so huge, that cach apart 65 Ran on imbattell armies clad in iron, Would ak a life to wail, but chief of all,
And weaponless himself,
130 Olofs of fight, of thee I nicit complain! Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer'd cuirass, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Chalybean temper'd itcel, and (rock of mail Light the prime work of God to me' is extinct, 70 Adamantean proof; And all her various objects of delight
But safest he wl.o stood aloof, Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas'd, When insupportably his fost advanc'd, loftrior to the vileit now become
lo scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Of man or worn; the vilete here excel me, Spurn’d them to death by troops. The bold They creep, yer fee, I dark in light expoa'd 75
Ascalonite To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Fled from his lion ramp, old warriors turn'd Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
Their plated backs under his heel;
140 la pow'r of others, never in my own;
Or grov'ling fvil'd their crested helmets in the duit. Scarce half I feein to live, deed more than half.
Then with what trivial weapon carne to hard, O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, 80 The jaw of a deacials, his sword of bone, Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestine, Without all hope of day!
In Ramath-lechi famous to this day.
145 O first created Beanı, and thou great Word,
Then by main force pull'd up, and on his shoulders Ict there be light, and light was over all;
bore Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree? 85 The gates of Azza, port, and massy bar, The fun to me is dark
Up to the hill by Hcbron, seat of giants old, And litent as the moon,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded fo; When she deserts the night
Like whom the Gentiles seign to bear
up Heaven, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Which shall I first bewail,
152 Since light so necessary is to life,
90 Thy bondage or loft light, And almost life itself, if it be true
Prison within prison That light is in the soul,
Inseparably dark? She all in every part: why was the sight Thou art become (0 worst imprisonment!) 155 To such a tender ball as th' eye conlin'd,
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul
Shut up from outward light
τύο To live a life half dead, a living death,
T' incorporate with gloomy night; And bury'd; but ( yet more miserable !
For inward light alas Myself, my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Puts forth no visual beam. Bury'd, yet not exempt
O mirror of our fickle state, By privilege of death and burial
Since man on earth unparalleld! From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs, 105
The rarer thy example ttands, But made hereby obnoxious more
By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,
(O that I never had! fond wish too late,) To lowest pitch of ahjed fortune thou art fall’n. Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila, For him I reckon not in high estate 170 That specious moniter, my accomplish'd snare. Whom long defcent of birth
I thought it lawful from my former ac, 231 Or the sphere of fortune raises;
And the same end ; ftill watching to oppress But thee whose strength, while virtue was her Israel's oppressors : of what now I suffer mate,
She was not the prime cause, but I myself, Might have subdued the earth,
Who vanquish'd with a peal of words (Oweakness!) Universally crown'd with highest praises. 175 Gave up my fort of silence to a woman. 236 Sams. I hear the sound of words, their sense Cno. In secking just occasion to provoke the air
The Philistine, thy country's enemy, Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear.
Thou never wast remiss, I bear chec witness : Cro. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless Yet Israël fill serves with all his sons. 240 in might,
Sams. That fault I take not on me, but transfer The glory late of Israel, now the grief;
On lsrael's governors, and heads of tribes, We come thy friends and neighbours not unknown Who seeing those great acts, which God had done From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale, 181 Singly by me against their conquerors, To visit or bewail thee, or is better,
Acknowledg’d not, or not at all consider'd 245 Counsel or confolation we may bring,
Deliverance offer'd: I on th' other fide Salve to thy fores; apt words have pow'r tu swage Us'd no ambition to commend my deeds, The tumors of a troubled mind,
185 The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud And are as balm to fetter'd wounds.
the doer; Sams. Your coming, Friends, revives me, for But they perlifted deaf, and would not seem 249 I learn
To count them things worth notice, till at length Now of my own experience, not by talk,
Their lords the Philistines with gather'd powers How counterfeit a coin they are who friends Enter's Judea seeking me, who then Bear in their superscription) of the most 190
Safe to the rock of Etham was retir'd, I would be understood); in prosp'rous days Not flying, but fore-calling in what place They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head, To set upon them, what advantag'a best : 255 Not to be found, though fought. Ye fee, O Mean while the men of Judah, to prevent Friends,
The harrass of their land, befet me round; How many evils have inclos'd me round; 194 | I willingly on some conditions came Yet that which was the worst now lcaft affiets nie, Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me Blindness, for had I fight, consus'd with shame, To the uncircumcis'd a welcome prey, 260 How could I once look up, or leave the head, Bound with two cords; but cords to me were Who like a foolith pilot have thipwrack'd
threads My veffel trusted to me from above,
Touch'd with the flame : on their whole host I few Gleriously rigg'd; and for a word, a tear, Unarm'd, and with a trivial weapon fellid Fool, have divulg'd the secret gift of God Their choicett youth ; they only liv'd who fled. To a deceitful woman? tell me, Friends,
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, 263 Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool
They had by this poflefs'd the towers of Gath, In every street ? do they not say, how well And lorded over them whom now they serve: Are come upon him his deserts? yet why? 205 But what more oft in natioas grown corrupi, Immeasurable strength they might behold
And by their vices brought to fervitude,
Cao. Tax not divine disposal; wisit men 210 Whom God hath of his special favor rais'd
To heap ingratitude on worthiet deeds? Who haft of forrow thy full load befides;
Cho: Thy words to my remembrance bring Y e truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder 215 How Succoth and the fort of Penuel Why thou shouldít wed Philitian women rather Their great deliverer contemn'd, 'Tian of thine own trile fairer, or as iais, The matchless Gidcon in purluit At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
Of Madian and her vanquilh'd kings : Sams. The firf I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd And how ingraicful Ephraim Me, Lot my parents, that I sought to wed Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument, The daughter of an infidel: they know not Not worse than by his shield and spear, That what I motion'd was of God; I knew Defended Ifrael from the Ammonite, From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd Had not his prowess quell'd their pride lte marriage on; that by occalion hence
In that sore battel when so many dy'd I nikt begin Israel's deliverance,
225 Without reprieve adjudg’d to death, The work to which I was divinely callid.
For want of well pronouncing Shibbolcth. She proving falic, the next I took to wife
Sams. Of such examples add me to the roll, aço
Me easily indeed mine may neglect,
Who would be now a father in my stead? 355 But God's propos'd deliverance not so.
O wherefore did God grant me my request, Cuo. Just are the ways of God,
And as a blefling with such pomp adornd? And juftitiable to men;
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt Unless there be who think not God at all :
295 Our earnest pray’rs, then, giv’n with folemn hand If azy be, they walk obscure;
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? 360 For of such do&rin never was there school, For this did th' Angel twice descend? for this But the heart of the fool,
Ordain'd thy nurturc holy, as of a plant And no man therein doctor but himself.
Select, and sacred, glorious for a while, Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, The miracle of men; then in an hour As to his own edicts found contradicting,
Insnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound, Then give the reins to wandering thought, Thy foes derision, captive, poor and blind, Regardless of his glory's diminution;
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with llaves ? Till by their own perplexities involv'd
Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once They ravel more, still less resolv'd,
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err, but never find self-fatisfying solution.
He should not so o’erwhcim, and as a thrall 370 As if they would confine th' Interminable, Subject him to so foul indignities, And tie him to his own prescript,
Be it but for honor's sake of former decds. Who made our laws to bind us, not himself, Sams. Appoint not heav'nly disposition, Father; And hath full right t' exempt
310 Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me Whom so it pleases him by choice
But justly; I myself have brought them on, 375 From nacional obstriction, without taint
Sole author I, sole cause : if ought seem vile, Of fin, or legal dcbt ;
As vile hath been my folly, who' have profan'd For with his own laws he can best dispense. The mystery of God giv'n me under pledge He would not else who never wanted means, 315
Of vow, and have betray'd it to a woman, Nor in respect of th' enemy jutt cause
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy To set his people free,
This well I knew, nor was at all surpris’d, Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
But warn'd by ost' experience : did not the
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
Of nuptial love profess'd, carrying it ftrait 385
And rivals? In this other was therc found
More faith, who also in her prime of love,
Though offer'd only, by the scent conceiv'd 390 With careful step, locks white as down,
Her fpurious firit-born, treason against me? Old Manoah : advise
Thrice the aflay'd with flattering prayers and figlis, Forthwith how thou oughtft to receive him. 329 And amorous reproaches, to win from me
Sams. Ay me, another inward grief awak'd My capital secret, in what part my strength
Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, Her importunity, each time perceiving As I suppose, tow'ards your once glory'd friend, How openly, and with what impudence, My son pow captive, hither hath inform'd 335 She purpos'd to betray me, and (which was worse Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age Than undissembled hate) with what contempt 400 Came lagging after; say if he be here.
She sought to make me traitor to myself; Cuo. As lignal now in low dejected state, Yet the fourth time, when mustering all her wiles, As erst in high'est, behold him where he lies. With blandith'd parlies, feminine assaults,
Man. O miserable change! is this the man, Tongue-batteries, she furceas'd not day nor night That invincible Samson, far renown'd,
To storm me over-watch'd, and wearied out, 405 The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength At times when men seek most repole and reft, Equivalent to Angels walk'd their streets,
1 yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart, None offering fight; who single combatant Who with a grain of manhood well resolv'j Duel'd their armies rank'd in proud array, 345 Might easily have shook off all her Inares : Himself an army, now unequal match
But foul effeminacy held me yok'd
410 To save himself against a coward arm’d
Her bond-llave; O indignity, o blot At one spear's length. O ever-failing trust To honor and religion ! servile mind In mortal strength! and oh what not in man
Rewarded well with servile punishment !
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,