« PreviousContinue »
Allæostropha. Division into act and scene referring chiefly to the stage (to which this work never was intended) is here omitted.
It suffices if the whole drama be found not produc'd beyond the fifth act. Of the stile and uniformity, and that commonly call’d the plot, whether intricate or explicit, which is nothing indeed but such æconomy, or disposition of the fable as may stand best with versimilitude and decorum; they only will best judge who are not unacquainted with AEschylus, 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 best example, within the space of twenty four 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 ceffation 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; lastly, that this feast was proclam'd by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, which get more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philistian 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 añd people, to play or show his strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial to come; at length persuaded 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 0.2 the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son'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.
THE PERSON S.
· SAMSO N.
MA NO A H, the Father of Samson.
DALIL A, his Wife.
HAR A P H A of Gath.
Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza. . SAMSON AGONISTES.
Sams. A Little onward lend thy guiding hand
A To these dark steps, a little further on;