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MANOAH. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest 1560 The desolation of a hostile city.


Feed on that first, there may in grief be surfeit.

Relate by whom.

By Samson.

That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.

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.

Suspense in news is torture, speak them out.

Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead. 1570

MANOAH. The worst indeed, O all my hope's 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 conceiv'd Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves 1575 Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring

1576. Abortive as the first-born justness and propriety. One canbloom of spring &c.] As Mr. not possibly imagine, a more Thyer says, this similitude is to

exact and perfect image of the be admired for its remarkable dawning hope which Manoah


Nipt 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?

Unwounded of his enemies he fell.

Wearied with slaughter then or how? explain.

By his own hands.


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

1585 Among his foes?


Inevitable cause

had conceived from the favour- And when he thinks, good easy man, able answer he had met with

full surely from some of the Philistian lords,

His greatness is a ripening, nips his

root; and of its being so suddenly ex- And then he falls, as I do. tinguished by this return of ill fortune, than that of the early Upon which Mr. Warburton rebloom,' which the warmth of a

marks, that as spring-frosts are few fine days frequently pushes not injurious to the roots of fruitforward in the spring, and then trees, he should imagine the poet it is cut off by an unexpected wrote shoot, that is, the tender

shoot' on which are the young return of winterly weather. As Mr. Warburton observes, this leaves and blossoms. The com, beautiful passage seems to be parison, as well as expression of taken from Shakespeare, Henry nips, is juster too in this reading. VIII. act iii. sc. 6.

Shakespeare has the same thought

in Love's Labour Lost. This is the state of man; to-day he puts forth

Byron is like an envious sneaping The tender leaves of hopes, to mor

frost row blossoms,

That bites the first-born infants of And bears his blushing honours thick

the spring. upon him; The third day comes a frost, a killing

See Warburton's Shakespeare, 'vol. v. p. 413.

frost ;


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

O 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.

Occasions drew me early to this city,
And as the gates l'enter'd with sun-rise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Through each high street : little I had dispatch’d,
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

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1596. Occasions drew me early God who had given him such a &c.] As I observed before, that measure of strength, and was Milton had with great art excited summing up all his force and the reader's attention to this resolution, has a very fine effect grand 'event, so here he is no upon the imagination. Milton less careful to gratify it by the is no less happy in the sublimity relation. It is circumstantial, of his description of this grand the importance of it required, exploit, than judicious in the but not so as to be tedious or too choice of the circumstances prelong to delay our expectation. ceding it. The poetry rises as It would be found difficult, I the subject becomes more inbelieve, to retrench one article teresting, and one may without without making it defective, or rant or extravagance say, that to add one which should not ap- the poet seems to exert no less pear redundant. The picture of force of genius in describing Samson in particular with head than Samson does strength of inclined and eyes fired, as if he body in executing. Thyer. was addressing himself to that

Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre

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 public servant brought,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind


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1604. -absent at that spectacle] history, mentions two theatres The language would be more built by one C. Curio, who lived correct, if it was absent from that in Julius Cæsar's time ; each of spectacle.

which was supported only by 1605. The building was a spa- one pillar, or pin, or hinge, cious theatre

though very many thousands of Half-round on two main pillars people did sit in it together. See

vaulted high, &c.] Poole's Annotations. Mr. Thyer Milton has finely accounted for further adds, that Dr. Shaw in this dreadful catastrophe, and his travels observing upon the has with great judgment obviated' eastern method of building says, the common objection. It is that the place where they exhibit commonly asked, how so great their diversions at this day is an a building, containing so many advanced cloister, made in the thousands of people, could rest fashion of a large penthouse, upon two pillars 'so near placed supported only by one or two together: and to this it is an- contiguous pillars in the front, swered, that instances are not or else at the centre, and that wanting of far more large and upon a supposition therefore that capacious buildings than this, in the house of Dagon, there was that have been supported only a cloistered structure of this by one pillar. Particularly, Pli- kind, the pulling down the front ny in the fifteenth chapter of the or centre pillars only which supthirty-sixth book of his natural ported it, would be attended with


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-tir'd to let him lean a while With both his arms on those two massy pillars, That to the arched roof


main support.
He unsuspicious led him ; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin’d,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last with head erect 'thus cried aloud,
Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos'd
I have perforin'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.

1645 This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd,




the like catastrophe that hap- 1619. --cataphracts) Men or pened to the Philistines. See horses completely armed, from Shaw's travels, p. 983.

καταφρασσω armis munio.

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