Imágenes de páginas




May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And number'd down: much rather I shall choose
To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest,
And he in that calamitous prison left.

No, I am fix'd, not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forego
And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing.

Cho. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons,
Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all:
Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age,
Thou in old age car'st how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eye-sight lost.

Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
And view him sitting in the house ennobled
With all those high exploits by him achieved,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks,
That of a nation arm’d the strength contain’d;
And I persuade me, God had not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrison'd round about him like a camp
Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose
To use him further yet in some great service;
Not to sit idle with so great a gift

Useless, and thence ridiculous, about him.
And since his strength with eye-sight was not lost,
God will restore him eye-sight to his strength.

Cho. Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem vain
Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
Conceived, agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate.

Man. I know your friendly minds, and—0, what noise!
Mercy of Heaven! what hideous noise was that?
Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.

Cho. Noise call you it, or universal groan,
As if the whole inhabitation perish'd!
Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise,
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.



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;
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief. 1535
A little stay will bring some notice hither.

Cho. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner;
For evil news rides post, while good news baits ;
And to our wish I see one hither speeding;
An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.


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
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not:
No preface needs; thou seest we long to know.

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.
Man. Relate by whom.

By Samson.

1515 1680


That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mes. Ah! Manoah, I refrain too suddenly

To utter what will come at last too soon;
Lest evil tidings, with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear, should pierce too deep.

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

Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring,
Nipp'd with the lagging rear of winter's frost!
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How died he; death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell, thou say'st; by whom fell he?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound ?

Mes. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? explain.
Mes. By his own hands.

Self-violence? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes ?

Mes. Inevitable cause,
At once both to destroy, and be destroyed.
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull’d.

Man. 0, lastly over-strong against thyself!
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.

Mes. Occasions drew me early to this city;
And as the gates I enter'd with sunrise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Through each high street: little I had despatch'd,



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,
As with amaze shall strike all who behold.
This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd:
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro



1619. Cataphracts: Horsemen in armour.



He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came, and drew 1650
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flower, not only
Of this, but each Philistian city round,
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these immix'd, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'scaped who stood without.
Cho. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious !

Living or dying thou hast fulfillid
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now liest victorious
Among thy slain, self-kill’d,
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy slaughter'd foes in number more
Than all thy life had slain before.

1. SEMI-chor. While their hearts were jocund and sublime, Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,

And fat regorged of bulls and goats,
Chanting their idol, and preferring
Before our Living Dread who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary;
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy sent,

Who hurt their minds,
And urged them on with mad desire,
To call in haste for their destroyer:
They, only set on sport and play,
Unweetingly importuned
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
Fallen into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.

2. SEMI-CHOR. But he, though blind of sight,
Despised, and thought extinguish'd quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue roused
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an evening dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts
And nests in order ranged
Of tame villatick fowl: but as an eagle





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 !

« AnteriorContinuar »