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that go under that name. Gregory Nazianzen, a Father of the Church, thought it not unbeseeming the sanctity of his person to write a tragedy, which is intitled Ckrijt suffering. This is mention d to vindicate tragedy from the small esteem, or rather infamy, which in the account of many it undergoes at this day with other common interludes; hap ning through the poets error of intermixing comic stuif with tragic ladness and gravity; or introducing trivial and vulgar persons, which by all ju. dicious hath been counted abfurd ; and brought in without discretion, corruptly to gratify the people. And though ancient tragedy use no prologue, yet using sometimes, in case of self-defense, or explanation, that which Martial calls an epiftle; in behalf of this tragedy coming forth after the ancient manner, much different from what among us passes for best, thus much before-hand may be epiltid; that chorus is here introduc'd after the Greek manner, not ancient only but modern, and fill in use among the Italians. In the modeling therefore of this poem, with good reason, the Ancients and Italians are rather follow'd, as of much more authority and fame. The measure of verse us'd in the chorus is of all sorts, calld by the Greeks Monostrophic, or rather Apalelymenon, without regard had to Strophe, Antistrophe or Epod, which were a kind of stanza's fram'd only for the music, then us'd with the chorus that sung ; not effential to the poem, and therefore not material ; or being divided into stanza's or pauses, they may be call'd Allæostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
It fuffices if the whole drama be found not produc'd beyond the fifth act. Of the stile and uniformity, and that commonly callid the plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such oeconomy, 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, and Euripides, the three tragic poets unequal'd yet by any, and the best rule to all who endevor to write tragedy. The circumscription of time, wherein the whole drama begins and ends, is according to ancient rule, and belt example, within the space of 24 hours.
Samson made captive, blind, and now in the prison at
Gaza, there to labor as in a common work-house, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd, there to fit 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 endevors the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ransome ; laitly, that this feast was proclam'd by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philiftian lords for Samson's redemption ; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a public officer to require his coming to the feast before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their prefence ; he at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length perfuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joy: ul hope, to procure ere long his fon's 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.