Page images

Samson Agonistes.




""Τραγωδία μίμησις πράξεως σπουδαίας,&c. 1

ARISTOT, Poet. c. vi.


Tragoedia et imitatio actionis seriæ, &c. per misericordiam et metum perficiens WE SORT OP DRAMATIC 106M WHICH I

talium affectuum lustrationem,”

[ocr errors]

matt been ever let the gravest, moral tiemafora sunt by Aristotle to be of pos pune te mit of those and such them to just measure with a kind of delig Sisteil imitated. Nor is nature want

on, forse in päysie things of melancho hiyo. sour minst sour, salt to remove s bergurst writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, an

es bucato adorn and illustrate the thought it not unworthy to insert a ver Sapone, I Cor. 15. 31, and Paræus, con

ägle beds, as a tragedy, into acts, dis

harpings and song between. Heretofor got a little to be thought able to compose alder was no less ambitious, than before os Cusar also had begun his "Ajax," but

what he had begun, left it unfinished. gät the author of those tragedies, at least me. Gregory Nazianzen, a father of the

sanctity of his person to write a tragedy, mits is mentioned to vindicate tragedy from

In the account of many it undergoes a appening through the poet's error of

nd gravity, or introducing trivial and een counted absurd, and brought in cople. And though ancient tragedy

of self-defence, or explanation, that this tragedy coming forth after the

nt manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much rehand may be epistled : that Chorus is here introduced after the Greek iner, not ancient only but modern, and still in use among the Italians. In the delling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the ancients and Italians are her followed, as of much more authority and fame. The measure of verse uscd

the chorus is of all sorts, called by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apolelyrenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistropho, or Epode, which were a kind f stanzas framed only for the music 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 Allcostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage, to wbich this work never was intended, is here omitted.

It sufices 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 verisimilitude and decorum, they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, the three tragic poets, unequalled yet by any, and the best rule to 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.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


3 day a solemn feast the people hold

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. Oh! wherefore was my birth from heav'n foretold Twice by an angel, who at last in sight Of both my parents all in flames ascended From off the altar, where an off'ring 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 prescribed As of a person separate to God, Design’d for great exploits, if I must die Betray'd, captived, and both my eyes put out, Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze, To grind in brazen fetters under task With this heav'n-gifted strength? O glorious strength Put to the labour of a beast, debased Lower than bondslave! Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke. Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt Divine prediction : what if all foretold Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, Whom have I to complain of but myself? Who this high gift of strength committed to me, In what part lodged, how easily bereft me, Under the seal of silence could not keep,

1 Judges xiii, 3, 11-20.

« PreviousContinue »