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285

Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Not worse than by his shield and spear,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quelld their pride
In that sore battle, when so many died
Without reprieve adjudg'd to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.

SAMSON.
Of such examples add me to the roll,

290 Me easily indeed mine may neglect, But God's propos'd deliverance not so.

CHORUS.
Just are the ways of God,
And justifiable to men ;
Unless there be who think not God at all :

295
If any be, they walk obscure ;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself.

Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just, 300 As to his own edicts found contradicting, Then give the reins to wand'ring thought,

men of Gilead smote Ephraim, "fool hath said in his heart, and took the passages of Jordan " There is no God: and who before the Ephraimites, and there “ but a fool would have said slew those of them who could not rightly pronounce the word 299. And no man therein doctor Shibboleth, and there fell at that but himself.] There is something time two and forty thousand of rather too quaint and fanciful in them. See Judg. xii. 1–6. this conceit, and it appears the

so?"

298. But the heart of the fool,] worse, as this speech of the Alluding to Psal. xiv. 1. and the Chorus is of so serious a nature, sentiment is not very unlike that and filled with so many deep of a celebrated divine. The and solemn truths. Thyer.

305

310

Regardless of his glory's diminution ;
Till by their own perplexities involv'd
They ravel more, still less resolv'd,
But never find self-satisfying solution.

As if they would confine th’ Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right t exempt
Whom so it pleases him by choice
From national obstriction, without taint
Of sin, or legal debt;
For with his own laws he can best dispense.

He would not else who never wanted means,
Nor in respect of th’ enemy just cause
To set his people free,
Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
Against his vow of strictest purity,
To seek in marriage that fallacious bride,

920 Unclean, unchaste.

Down reason then, at least vain reasonings down, Though reason here aver That moral verdict quits her of unclean :

315

303. Regardless of his glory's 324. That moral verdict quits diminution ;] This expression is her of unclean:] That is, by the strong as anciently understood. law of nature a Philistian woman Cicero de Orat. ii. 39. Majestatem was not unclean, yet the law of pop.

Rom, minuere is the same as Moses held her to be so. I do crimen læsæ majestatis. Corn. not know why the poet thought Nepos, Ages. 4. religionem minu- fit to make his hero scepticize ere is violare. Richardson. on a point, as irreconcileable to 319. -vow of strictest purity,] reason,

be very well Not a vow of celibacy, but of accounted for by the best rules strictest purity from Mosaical of human prudence and policy. and legal uncleanness. War. The institution of Moses was to burton.

keep the Jewish people distinct

which may

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330

Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his.

But see here comes thy reverend Sire
With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoah : advise
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.

SAMSON.
Aye me, another inward grief awak'd
With mention of that name renews th' assault.

MANOAH.
Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem,
Though in this uncouth place ; if old respect,
As I suppose, tow’ards your once gloried friend,
My son now captive, hither hath inform’d
Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age
Came lagging after ; say if he be here.

CHORUS.
As signal now in low dejected state,
As erst in high’est, behold him where he lies.

MANOAH.
O miserable change! is this the man,

335

340

and separate from the nations. desirous to visit him than his This the lawgiver effected by a father. vast variety of means: one of 340. O miserable change! &c.] which was to hold all other na- This speech of Manoah's is in tions under a legal impurity; the my opinion very beautiful in its best means of preventing inter- kind. The thoughts are exactly marriages with them. Wurburton. such as one may suppose would

336. - while mine cast back occur to the mind of the old with age] This is very artfully man, and are expressed with an and properly introduced, to ac- earnestness and impatience very count for the Chorus coming to well suited to that anguish of Samson before Manoah, for it is mind he must be in at the sight not to be supposed that any of of his son under such miserable his friends should be more con- afflicted circumstances. It is not cerned for his welfare, or more at all unbecoming the pious grave

345

That invincible Samson, far renown'd,
The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength
Equivalent to angels walk'd their streets,
None offering fight; who single combatant
Duell'd their armies rank'd in proud array,
Himself an army, now unequal match
To save himself against a coward arm'd
At one spear's length. O ever failing trust
In mortal strength! and oh what not in man
Deceivable and vain ? Nay what thing good
Pray'd for, but often proves our woe, our bane?
I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach ; I gain’d a son,
And such a son as all men hail'd me happy;

350

character of Manoah to represent Mulier, amicum solis hoc magni ju. him, as Milton does, even com

bar,

Dulce et tueri maria cum venti silent: plaining and murmuring at this

Dulce est et amnis largus, et vernans disposition of heaven, in the first

humus: bitterness of his soul. Such sud- Sunt aliis pulchra multa, quæ possum den starts of infirmity are ascribed addere. to some of the greatest person

Sed crede nullum gratius spectaculum

est, ages in Scripture, and it is

agree

Quam post querelas orbitatis tetrica, able to that well known maxim,

Conspicere forem libcı um orientem that religion may regulate, but domi. can never eradicate, natural pas- Eurip. Barnes, p. 443. Calton. sions and affections. Thyer. 354. And such a son &c.] It is 352. I pray'd for children, and very hard that the editors of thought barrenness

Milton have never taken the In wedlock a reproach ;] pains to correct the errors of the Some lines from a fragment of first edition, which he had himEuripides may be introduced self corrected. This verse at first here. They are very beautiful, was printed imperfect, and it has and not impertinent.

been followed in all the editions, Γυναι, φιλον μεν φεγγος ήλιου τοδε, Such a son as all men haild me τοντου χευμιδειν ευηνεμών, ,

happy ; Γης' πρινων θαλλουσα, πλουσιον f ύδωρ

And was wanting in the beginΠολλων σ' επαινον εστι μοι λεξει καλων. Αλλ' ουδεν ούτω λαμπρον, ουδ' ιδειν καλον,

ning, Ως τους απαισι, και ποθώ διδηγμινοις, And such a son as all men hail'd me Παιδων νεογνων εν δομους ιδειν φεος.

happy;

ΚαλOY

355

360

365

Who would be now a father in my stead?
O wherefore did God grant me my request,
And as a blessing with such pomp adorn’d?
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt
Our earnest pray’rs, then giv'n with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ?
For this did th’ Angel twice descend ? for this
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select, and sacred, glorious for a while,
The miracle of men ; then in an hour
Insnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
Thy foes derision, captive, poor and blind,
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves ?
Alas methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o’erwhelm, and as a thrall
Subject him to so foul indignities,
Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.

SAMSON.
Appoint not heav'nly disposition, father ;
Nothing of all these evils hath befall’n me
But justly; I myself have brought them on,

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375

so Milton himself corrected it, 359. —then giv'n with solemn and SO Mr. Jortin and Mr.

hand Sympson conjectured it should As graces, draw a scorpion's be read. And at the time of tail behind ?] writing this, in all probability He has raised this beautiful the author remembered the imagery on the following text, happy father in Terence. An- Luke xi. 12. If a son shall ask dria i. i. 69.

of his father an egg, will he offer Cum id mihi placebat, tum uno ore him a scorpion ? He was not alomnes omnia

ways so happy. Warburton. Bona dicere, et laudare fortunas

373. Appoint] That is, armeas, Qui natum haberem tali ingenio raign, summon to answer. Warpræditum.

burton. VOL. III.

S

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