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were a kind of stanzas framed only for the musick, 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 Al, læostropha. 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 economy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with versimilitude and decorum ; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, the three tragic poets unequalled yet by any, and the best rule of 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.

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 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 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 depurts 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 à publick 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 publick 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, Manoa h returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his sons deliverance : in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste confusedly 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,

THE PERSONS,

SAMSON.

MANOAH, the Father of Samson.

Dalila, his Wife,

HARAPHA of Gath,

Publick Officer.

Messenger,

Chorus of Danites.

The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.

SAMSON AGONISTES.

SAMSON, (an attendant leading him.)

A

LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand To these dark steps, a little further on: For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: There I am wont to sit, when any chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil, Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw The air imprison'd also, close and damp, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and

sweet, With day-spring born; here leave me to respire. This day a solemn feast the people hold To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid

Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
Their superstition yields me; hence with leave
Retiring from the popular noise, I seek
This unfrequented place to find some ease,
Ease to the body some, none to the mind
From restless thoughts, that, like a deadly swarm
Of hornets arm’d, no sooner found alone,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
Times

past,
what once

I
was,

and what am now.
0, wherefore was my birth from Heaven foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended
From off the altar, where an oftering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His God-like presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib’d
As of a person separate to God,
Design’d for great exploits ; if I must die
Betray'd, captív'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of

my

enemies the scorn and gaze; To grind in brazen fetters under task With this Heaven-gifted strength? O glorious

strength,
Put to the labour of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him

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