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May compass it, shall willingly be paid
Cho. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons,
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
Cho. Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem vain
Man. I know your friendly minds, and—0, what noise!
Cho. Noise call you it, or universal groan,
1490. It shall be my delight, &c. The hopes of God's restoring his eyes again.character of a fond parent is extremely THYER. well supported in the person of Manoah 1508. O, what noise! Observe with what quite through the whole performance, art and judgment Milton prepares the but there is in my opinion something reader for the relation of the catastrophe peculiarly natural and moving in this of this tragedy. This abrupt start of speech. The circumstance of the old Manoah upon hearing the hideous noise, man's feeding and soothing his fancy with and the description of it by the Chorus the thoughts of tending his son, and con- in their answer, in terms so full of dread templating him ennobled with so many and terror, naturally fill the mind with famous exploits, is vastly expressive of a presaging horror proper for the occathe doating fondness of an old father. sion,-TRYER. Nothing can be more imNor is the poet less to be admired for his pressive, more calculated to excite pity, making Manoah, under the intiuence of than the revolution of Samson's fate, this pleasing imagination, go on still fur- which is now developed.-TODD. ther, and flatter himself even with the
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise: 1515 0! it continues: they have slain my son.
Cho. Thy son is rather slaying them; that outcry From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be: What shall we do: stay here, or run and see?
1520 Cho. Best keep together here, lest, running thither, We unawares run into danger's mouth. This evil on the Philistines is fallen; From whom could else a general cry be heard? The sufferers then will scarce molest us here:
1525 From other hands we need not much to fear. What if, his eye-sight (for to Israel's God Nothing is hard) by miracle restored, He now be dealing dole among his foes, And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way? Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought.
Cho. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible For his people of old; what hinders now?
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will;
Cho. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
1540 Enter MESSENGER. Mes. 0, whither shall I run, or which way fly The sight of this so horrid spectacle, Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold ? For dire imagination still pursues me. But providence or instinct of nature seems, Or reason, though disturb'd, and scarce consulted, To have guided me aright, I know not how, To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining, As at some distance from the place of horrour,
1550 So in the sad event too much concern'd.
Max. The accident was loud, and here before thee
Mes. It would burst forth, but I recover breath 1555 And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.
Mes. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallen All in a moment overwhelm'd and fallen,
Man. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest 1560 The desolation of a hostile city.
Mes. Feed on that first: there may in grief be surfeit.
That still lessens
Man. Suspense in news is torture; speak them out. Mes. Take then the worst in brief: Samson is dead, 1570 Man. The worst indeed! 0, all my hopes defeated To free him hence! but death, who sets all free, Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge. What windy joy this day had I conceived Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
Mes. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Self-violence? what cause
Mes. Inevitable cause,
Man. 0, lastly over-strong against thyself!
1565. The reader cannot fail to observe son in particular, with head inclined and and to feel the art of the poet, in very eyes fir'd, as if he was addressing himgradually unfolding the catastrophe- self to that God who had given him such Jos. WARTOX.
a measure of strength, and was summing 1590, Occasions drew me early. &c. As up all his force and resolution, has a very I observed before, that Milton had, with fine effect upon the imagination. Milton great art, excited the reader's attention is no less happy in the sublimity of his to this grand event, so here he is no less description of this grand exploit, than careful to gratify it by the relation. It judicious in the choice of the circumIn circumstantial, as the importance of it stances preceding it. The poetry rises required, but not so as to be tedious or as the subject becomes more interesting, too long, to delay our expectation. It and one may say, without extravagance, would be found difficult, I believe, to re- that the poet seems to exert no less force trench one article without making it de- of genius in dercribing, than Samson fective, or to add one which would not does strength of body in executing. appear redundant. The picture of Sam- 'THYER.
When all abroad was rumour'd that this day
1600 Samson should be brought forth to show the people Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games : I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded Not to be absent at that spectacle. The building was a spacious theatre
1605 Half-round, on two main pillars vaulted high, With seats, where all the lords, and each degree Of sort, might sit in order to behold; The other side was open, where the throng On banks and scaffolds under sky might stand; 1610 I among these aloof obscurely stood. The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice Had fill’d their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine, When to their sports they turn'd. Immediately Was Samson as a publick servant brought,
1615 In their state livery clad; before him pipes And timbrels, on each side went armed guards, Both horse and foot, before him and behind, Archers and slingers, cataphracts and spears. At sight of him, the people with a shout
1620 Rifted the air, clamouring their god with praise, Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall. He, patient, but undaunted, where they led him, Came to the place; and what was set before him, Which without help of eye might be assay’d,
1625 To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd All with incredible, stupendous force; None daring to appear antagonist. At length for intermission sake they led him Between the pillars; he his guide requested
1630 (For so from such as nearer stood we heard) As over-tired to let him lean awhile With both his arms on those two massy pillars, That to the arched roof gave main support. He, unsuspicious, led him; which when Samson 1635 Felt in his arms, with head awhile inclined, And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd, Or some great matter in his mind revolved : At last with head erect thus cried aloud :Hitherto, lords, what your commands imposed
1640 I have perform’d, as reason was, obeying, Not without wonder or delight beheld: .Now of my own accord such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
1619. Cataphracts: Horsemen in armour.
He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came, and drew 1650
1. SEMI-chor. While their hearts were jocund and sublime, Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
2. SEMI-CHOR. But he, though blind of sight,
1800. O dearly bought revenge, &c. It is , be supposed to be struck dumb with the judicious to make the Chorus and Seni- unexpected event.-Jos. WARTON. Chorus speak first after this dreadful ac- 1667. In number more. Judges xvi. 30. count of Samson's death, and not his 1674. In Silo, where the tabernacle and father Manoah, who makes no answer ark then were. till after a considerable pause, as he may !