Tragcedia est imitatio actionis seriae, etc.per misericordiam et metum perficiens talium affectuum lustrationem; of that sort of dramatic poem called a TRAGEDY. A tragedy, as it was anciently composed, hath been ever held the gravest, moralest, and most profitable of all other poems there to be of power, by raising pity and fear, or horror, to purge the mind of those and such-like passions, that is, to temper and reduce them to just measure with a kind of delight, stirred up by reading or seeing those passions well imitated. Nor is Nature wanting in her own effects to make good his assertion ; for so, in physic, things of melancholic hue and quality are used against melancholy, sour against sour, salt to remove salt humours. Hence philosophers and other grave writers, as Cicero, Plutarch, and others, frequently cite out of tragic poets both to adorn and illustrate their discourse.
SAMSON AGONIST KS. 21 But I God’s counsel have not kept, his holy secret presumptuously have published, impiously weakly at least and shamefully a sin that Gentiles in their parables condemn to their Abyss and horrid pains confined. Man. Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite ; but act not in thy own affliction, son. Repent the sin ; but, if the punishment thou canst avoid, self-preservation bids ; or the execution leave to high disposal, and let another hand, not thine, exact thy penal forfeit from thyself. Perhaps God will relent, and quit thee all his debt; who evermore approves and more accepts best pleased with humble and filial submission him who, imploring mercy, sues for life than who, self-rigorous, chooses death as due.. But God hath set before us to return thee home to thy country and his sacred house, where thou may’st bring thy offerings, to avert his further ire, with prayers and vows renewed.
SAMSON AGONIST IX 23 An imrdenous drone ; to visitants a gaze, or pitied object ; these redundant locks, robustious to no purpose, clustering down, vain monument of strength ; till length of years and sedentary numbness craze my limbs to a contemptible old age obscure. Here rather let me drudge, and earn my bread, till vermin, or the draff of servile food, consume me and oft-invocated death hasten the welcome end of all my paina. Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with that gift which was expressly given thee to annoy them? Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle, inglorious, unemployed, with age outworn. But God, who caused a fountain at thy prayer from the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay after the brunt of battle, can as easy cause light again within thy eyes to spring, wherewith to serve him better than thou hast. And I persuade me so. Why else this strength miraculous yet remaining in those locks ? His might continues in thee not for naught nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus. Sams. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend that these dark orbs no more shall treat with light, nor the other light of life continue long, but yield to double darkness nigh at hand I so much I feel my genial spirits droop, I My hopes all flat : Nature within me seems in all her functions weary of herself ; My race of glory run, and race of shame, and I shall shortly be with them that rest. Man. Believe not these suggestions, which proceed from anguish of the mind, and humours black that mingle with thy fancy. I, however, must not omit a father’s timely care.
24 SAMSON AGONISTES. To prosecute the means of thy deliverance by ransom or how else : meanwhile be calm, and healing words from these thy friends admit. Sams: oh, that torment should not be confined to the body’s wounds and sores, with maladies innumerable in heart, head, breast, and reins, but must secret passage find to the inmost mind, there exercise all his fierce accidents, and on her purest spirits prey, as on entrails, joints, and limbs, with answerable pains, but more intense, though void of corporal sense ! My griefs not only pain me as a lingering disease, but, finding no redress, ferment and rage ; nor less than wounds immedicable ankle, and fester, and gangrene, to black mortification. Thoughts, my tormentors, armed with deadly stings, mangle my apprehensive tenderest parts, exasperate, exulcerate, & raise dire inflammation, which no cooling herb or med’cinal liquor can assuage, nor breath of vernal air from snowy Alp. Sleep hath forsook and given me o’er to death’s benumbing opium as my only cure ; thence faintings, swoonings of despair, and sense of Heaven’s desertion. I was his nursling once and choice delight, his destined from the womb, promised by heavenly, message twice descending. Under his special eye abstemious I grew up and thrived amain ; he led me on to mightiest deeds..
SAMSON AGONISTES. iT, Above the nerve of mortal arm, against the uncircumcised, our enemies : But now hath cast me off as never known, and to those cruel enemies, whom I by his appointment had provoked, left me all helpless, with the irreparable loss of sight, reserved alive to be repeated the subject of their cruelty or scorn. Nor am I in the list of them that hope ; hopeless are all my evils, all remediless. This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard, no long petition speedy death, the close of all my miseries and the balm. Chorus. Many are the sayings of the wise, in ancient and in modern books enrolled, extolling patience as the truest fortitude, and to the bearing well of all calamities, all chances incident to man’s frail life, consolatories writ with studied argument, and much persuasion sought, lenient of grief and anxious thought. But with the afflicted in his pangs their sound little prevails, or rather seems a tune harsh, and of dissonant mood from his complaint, unless he feel within some source of consolation from above, secret refreshings that repair his strength and fainting spirits uphold. God of our fathers ! what is Man, that thou towards him with hand so various or might I say contrarious ? Temper’st thy providence through his short course : Not evenly, as thou rul’st the angelic orders, and inferior creatures mute, irrational and brute ? Nor do I name of men the common rout..to be continued.