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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 pullid.

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.

1595 MESSENGER. Occasions drew me early to this city, And as the gates I 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

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, as 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 fixed, 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,

1615 In their state livery clad; before him pipes And timbrels, on each side went armed guards, Both horse and foot, before him and behind

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
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,
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
(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 gave 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 perform'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.
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. 283.

Xatapgarow armis munio.

As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars i
With horrible convulsion to and fro,
He tugg'd, he shook, till down they came and drew 1650
The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder
Upon the heads of all who sat beneath,
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests,
Their choice nobility and flow'r, not only
Of this but each Philistian city round

Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson with these immix'd, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.

O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious !

Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now li’est victorious
Among thy slain self-kill'd
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold

1665 Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd Thee with thy slaughter'd foes in number more Than all thy life had slain before.

1649. With horrible convulsion] ral passages which we have corIn several editions it is printed rected by the help of the first confusion, but Mr. Thyer, Mr. edition, without taking notice of Sympson, and every body saw them. . that it should be convulsion, and


in number more so it is in Milton's own edition. Than all thy life had slain beAnd in the next line it should fore.] not be He tugged, he took, as it Judges xvi. 30. So the dead which is absurdly in some editions, but he slew at his death, were more He tugged, he shook, as in the than they which he slen in his first edition: and there are seve- life. VOL. III.


While their hearts were jocund and sublime,
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,

And fat regorg'd of bulls and goats, ,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo his bright sanctuary:
Among them he a spi'rit of frenzy sent,

1675 Who hurt their minds, And urg'd them on with mad desire To call in haste for their destroyer; They only set on sport and play Unweetingly importun'd

1680 Their own destruction to come speedy upon them. So fond are mortal men Fall'n into wrath divine, As their own ruin on themselves t'invite, Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,

1685 And with blindness internal struck.

But he though blind of sight,
Despis’d and thought extinguish'd quite,
With inward eyes illuminated, ,
His fiery virtue rous'd

1690 From under ashes into sudden flame, And as an evening dragon came,

1674. In Silv] Where the ta- 1692. And as an evening dragon bernacle and ark were at that came &c.] Mr. Calton says that time.

Milton certainly dictated 1682. So fond are mortal men,

And not as an evening dragon came. &c.] Agreeable to the common maxim, Quos Deus vult perdere Samson did not set upon them dementat prius. Thyer. like an evening dragon; but

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