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Assailant on the perched roosts,
And nests in order rang'd
Of tame villatic fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue giv'n for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird
In the Arabian woods imbost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teem’d,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem’d,
And though her body die, her fame survives



darted ruin on their heads like ticas aliles, Flin. lib. xxiii. sect. 17. the thunder-bearing eagle. Mr. Richardson. Sympson to the same purpose 1695. —but as an eagle &c.] proposes to read

In the Ajax of Sophocles it is And not as evening dragon came

said that his enemies, if they saw but as an eagle &c.


would be terrified Mr. Thyer understands it other- the vulture or eagle, ver. 167.

like birds at the appearance of wise, and explains it without any alteration of the text, to which

Αλλ' ότι


an &c. rather I incline. It is common

The Greek verses, I think, are enough among the ancient poets faulty, and as I remember, are to meet with several similies corrected not amiss by Dawes in brought in to illustrate one ac

his Miscell. Critic. Jortin. tion, when one cannot be found 1700. -imbost.) Concealed, that will hold in every circum- covered. Spenser, Faery Queen, stance. Milton does the same b. i. cant. iii. st. 24. here, introducing this of the A knight her met in mighty arms dragon merely in allusion to the imbost. order in which the Philistians

Richardson. were placed in the amphitheatre, 1702 a holocaust] An en. and the subsequent one of the tire burnt-offering. Else geneeagle to express the rapidity of rally only part of the beast was that vengeance which Samison burnt. Richardson. took of his enemies.

1706. --her fame survives 1695. -villatic fowl ;] Villa- A secular bird ages of lives.]

A secular bird ages of lives.

Come, come, no time for lamentation now;
Nor inuch more cause; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroically bath finish'd

A life heroic, on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor

ages of

The construction and meaning “ dies” but “ her fame survides," of the whole period I conceive i. e. continues to live, “ to be this, Virtue given for lost, « lives.” And “a secular bird" like the phenix consumed and may refer to the person implied now teemed from out her ashy in the possessive pronoun her," womb, revives, reflourishes, and a construction common in Milthough her body die which was ton. If this be so, virtue will the case of Samson, yet her fame have been confused in the course survives a phenix many ages: of the passage with the bird to for the comma after survives in which it is compared, a thing all the editions should be omit- not unparalleled in our author. ted, as Mr. Calton has observed E. as well as myself. The phenix, This soleinn introduction of says he, lived a thousand years the phenix is a gross outrage of according to some, (see Bochart's poetical propriety. It is faulty, Hierozoicon, pars secunda, p. not only as it is incongruous to 817.] and hence it is called here the personage to whom it is a secular bird. Ergo quoniam ascribed, but as it is so evidently sex diebus cuncta Dei opera per- contrary to reason and nature, fecta sunt; per secula sex, id est that it ought never to be menannorum sex millia, manere hoc tioned but as a fable in a serious statu mundum necesse est. Lac


Johnson. tantius, Div. Inst. lib. vii. c. 14. 1713. to the sons of Caphtor] The fame of virtue (the Semi- Caphtor it should be, and not chorus saith) survives, outlives Chaptor, as in several editions: this secular bird many ages. The and the sons of Caphtor are Phicomma, which is in all the edi- listines, originally of the island tions after survices, breaks the Caphtor or Crete. The people construction.

were called Caphtorim, Chere1706. Had this been the in- thim, Ceretim, and afterwards tended construction, he should Cretians. A colony of them rather have said “ the secular settled in Palestine, and there « bird.” But survives may be went by the name of Philistim. perhaps more naturally con- Meadoncourl. trasted with dies; her body

Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, but let them

Find courage to lay hold on this occasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear’d,
But favouring and assisting to the end.

1720 Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt, Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair, And what may quiet us in a death so noble. Let us go find the body where it lies

1725 Soak’d in his enemies' blood, and from the stream With lavers pure and cleansing herbs wash off The clotted


I with what speed the while
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay)
Will send for all

kindred, all

my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy and funeral train
Home to his father's house: there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever green, and branching palm,

With all his trophies hung, and acts inrolla
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts


1780. Will send for all my kin- house of his father, came down dred, all my friends, &c.] This and took him, and brought him is founded upon what the Scrip- up, and buried him between Zorah ture saith, Judges xvi. 31. which and Eshtanl in the burying-place the poet has finely improved. of Manoah his father. Then his brethren, and all the



To matchless valour, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall on feastful days
Visit his tomb with flow'rs, only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.

All is best, though we oft doubt,
What th' unsearchable dispose
Of highest wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns,
And to his faithful champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent;
His servants he with new acquist
Of true experience from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismiss'd,
And calm of mind all passion spent.



1745. All is best, though we same as acquisition, a word that oft doubl, &c.] There is a great may be found in Skinner, but I resemblance betwixt this speech do not remember to have met of Milton's Chorus, and that of with it elsewhere. the Chorus in Æschylus's Sup- 1757. With peace and consolaplices, beginning at ver. 90.

tion hath dismiss'd,

And calm of mind all passion Διος ίμερος ουκ ευθηρατος ετυχθη &c. to ver. 109.

spent.] Thyer.

This moral lesson in the conclu.

sion is very fine, and excellently 1755. His servants he with new suited to the beginning. For acquist] It is his servant in most Milton had chosen for the motto of the editions, but the first to this piece a passage out of edition has it rightly his servants, Aristotle, which may shew what meaning the Chorus and other

was his design in writing this persons present. Acquist, the tragedy, and the sense of which he hath expressed in the preface, “ tention of getting Mr. Pope that " tragedy is of power by “to divide the Samson Agonistes “ raising pity and fear, or terror, “ into acts and scenes, and of “ to purge the mind of those “having it acted by the King's “ and such like passions, &c." “ Scholars at Westminster." And and he exemplifies it here in see what he says to that purpose Manoah and the Chorus, after in one of his letters to Mr. Pope. their various agitations of pas- "I hope you will not utterly sion, acquiescing in the divine . “ forget what passed in the coach dispensations, and thereby incul- " about Samson Agonistes. I cating a most instructive lesson “ shall not press you as to time, to the reader. As this work “ but some time or other, I wish was not intended for the stage, you would review, and polish it is not divided into acts; but “ that piece. If upon a new if any

critic should be disposed "perusal of it (which I desire so to divide it, he may easily do you to make) you think as I it by beginning the second act « do, that it is written in the at the entrance of Manoah, the very spirit of the ancients; it third at the entrance of Dalila, deserves your care, and is cathe fourth at the entrance of Ha- “ pable of being improved, with rapha, and the fifth at the en- “ little trouble, into a perfect trance of the public Officer: but “ model and standard of tragic the stage is never empty or with- “poetry-always allowing for out persons, according to the “ its being a story taken out of model of the best written trage- “ the Bible, which is an objecdies among the ancients. I have « tion that at this time of day said in the Life of Milton, that “ I know is not to be got over.” “ Bishop Atterbury had an in

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