Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

seroso.

pleases the million; it it still caviare to the general.” Elfrida, edit. 1752. Lett. ii. p. vi, vii.

Mr. Penn has printed, in the second volume of his valuable “ Critical, Poetical, and Dramatick Works, 1798," an abridgement of Milton's Samson ; in nearly which form he thinks it might be acted as an interlude, without danger of being ill received. The abridgement is formed with much ingenuity. Yet the classical reader will not perhaps accede to the absence of some splendid, and some affecting, passages. Mr. Penn also remarks, that Dr. Johnson's criticism on this tragedy is severe only in supposing, that it contained no more than the substance of one act; and that, though still one of Milton's valuable works, Samson is inferiour both to Lycidas, and the Allegro and Pen

I agree in preferring the earlier poems of Milton to his tragedy: But I may be permitted not to subscribe to the assertion in Dr. Johnson's criticism that “nothing passes between the first act and the last, that either hastens or delays the death of Samson ;” which, Mr. Cumberland observes, is not correct. See before, p. 336. On the contrary, I admire the art and judgement with which the poet has delineated the various circumstances that, from the first entrance of Manoah to the last appearance of Samson, progressively affect the mind of the hero, and finally produce the resolution which hastens the catastrophe. Samson, as an oratorio, is divided into three acts: Mr. Penn's abridgement exhibits the length of two.

It has been observed by Goldsmith, that Samson is a tragedy without a love-intrigue, as the Athalie of Racine also is, which appeared not many years after Samson ; and that Maffei, instructed by these examples, has formed his Merope without any amorous plot.

The history of Samson has often employed the pen of poetry. Mr. Hayley thinks that Milton's Samson might perhaps be founded on a sacred drama of that country, to the poets of which Milton was confessedly partial; La Rappresentazione di Sansone, per Alessandro Roselli; of which there is an edition printed at Florence in 1554, another at the same place in 1588, and a third at Sienna in 1616: but I have not been more fortunate than Mr. Hayley, in endeavouring to procure a copy of this Samson. The accomplished author of the Historical Memoir on Italian

[ocr errors]

Tragedy, 1799, has suggested to me that Milton might have met
with more than one Italian drama on this subject; for, among the
Rappresentazioni enumerated by Cionacci, he had observed a
Sansone, from the prologue to which' an extract is given :

“ A gloria adunche dell'Altitonante,

“ E di colui che più che 'l sol risplende; &c." and this he conceives to be not the Sansone of Roselli; but a Rappresentazione of the fifteenth century. I am informed by the same gentleman, that, in or about the year 1622, appeared the following French drama, which might also have influenced the English poet in the choice of Samson. “ Tragedie nouvelle de Samson le fort; contentant ses victoires, et sa prise par la trahison de son épouse Dalila, qui lui coupa ses cheveux, et le livra aux Philistins, desquels il occit trois mille à son trespas: En quatre actes. 8vo. sans date." I must not omit to mention the Sansone of Ferrante Pallavicino, in three books, published at Venice in 1655, into which Milton might perhaps have looked. Probably among the Autos Sacramentales or religious tragedies of the Spanish, a Samson may exist. His history is particularly noticed, and part of it described in a Sonnet, in the celebrated Spanish pastoral, La Constante Amarillis, edit. Lyon. 1614, p. 166. “Sanson se mira y duda, &c." Among a variety of sacred poems in different Latin metres, the acts of Samson are described in nearly four hundred elegant hexameters in the Judices Populi Israelitici, Autore Pantaleone Candido, Austriaco, printed at Basil in 1570, p. 301-315. Phillips, Milton's nephew, calls Candidus “ the chief of those that are fam’d for an elegant style in Latin verse." Theat. Poet. 145. Phillips also, in his list of modern Poets, notices “ Hieronymus Zieglerus, a writer of divers tragicomedies, and other dramatick pieces out of the Old and New Testament; as his Protoplastus, Immolation of Isaac, Nomothesia, SAMSON, Heli, &c." Theat. Poet. p. 73. The drama of Samson was published, as I have already noticed, Augustæ, 1547, 8vo. But Milton is not to be traced in it. In our own language likewise, an elaborate Historie of Samson was published, in 1632, by Quarles; in which, among several extravagancies indeed of imagery and expression, are some spirited passages: I will cite the description of Samson enraged, when

[ocr errors]

he found that his bride had discovered his riddle, edit. 1632,

p. 327.

" When the next Day had heav'd his golden head
« From the soft pillow of his sea-greene bed;
“ And, with his rising glory, had possest
“ The spatious borders of the enlighten'a East;
“ Samson arose ; and, in a rage, went downe

(By Heaven directed) to a neighbouring towne:
“ His choller was inflam'd, and from his eye
“ The sudden flashes of his wrath did flye;
“ Palenesse was in his cheekes; and, from his breath,
“ There flew the fierce embassadours of death;
“ He heav'd his hand, and where it fell, it slew, &c."

TopD.

1.

i

APPENDIX

TO

SAMSON AGONISTES,

Containing plans of other subjects, intended for Tragedies by Miltont :

FROM HIS OWN MS. IN TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

SCRIPTURE SUBJECTS

OTHER TRAGEDIES.

i. The Flood. [See No, iii. below.] ii. Abram in Ægypt. ii. The Deluge. iv. Sodom. v. Dinah. Vide Euseb. Præparat. Evangel. lib. ix. cap. xxii.

a Many of these subjects in Milton's hands would have made glorious Tragedies. And one cannot enough lament that the prejudices of his age should have discouraged him from giving us more of these dramas; for the execution of which he was, both by nature and art, supremely accomplished. There is, in the specimen he has given us, a simplicity and dignity united, of which we have no example in modern Tragedy. His Samson is at once the disgrace of his own age and of ours. HURD.

These numerous Scripture subjects justify, a remark made by Mr. Warton, that Milton early leaned towards religious subjects for plays, and wished to turn the drama into the scriptural channel: he accordingly, in his Reason of Ch. Gov. against Prelacy, written in 1641, tempers his praise of Sophocles and Euripides with recommending Solomon's Song; and adds, that “the Apocalypse of Saint John is the majestick image of a high and stately tragedy, shutting up and intermingling her solemn scenes and acts with a seven-fold chorus of hallelujahs and harping symphonies.”. Prose-Works, edit. 1698, vol. i. 61. Todd.

So they are termed in Milton's MS. Those, which relate to Paradise Lost, have been given at the end of that poem. TODD.

The Persons.
Dine.

Hamor.
Debora, Rebecca's nurse. Sichem.
Jacob.

Counsellors 2.
Simeon.

Nuncius.
Levi.

Chorus. vi. Thamar Cuophorusa. Where Juda is found to have been

the author of that crime, which he condemned in

Tamar: Tamar excus'd in what she attempted. vii. The Golden Calfe, or the Massacre in Horeb. viii. The Quails. Num. xi. ix. The Murmurers. Num. xiv. x. Corah, Dathan, &c. Num. xvi. xvii. xi. Moabitides. Num. xxv. [See No. lv. below.] xii. Achan. Joshue vii. and viïi. xiji. Josuah in Gibeon. Josh. x. xiv. Gideon Idoloclastes. Judg. vi. vii. xv. Gideon pursuing. Judg. viii. xvi. Abimelech the Usurper. Judg. ix. xvii. SAMSON MARRIING, or in Ramach Lechi. Judg. xv. xviii. SAMSON PURSOPHORUS, or Hybristes, or Dagonalia.

Judg. xvi. xix. Comazontes, or The Benjaminites, or The Rioters. Judg.

xix, xx, xxi. xx. Theristria, a Pastoral out of Ruth. xxi. Eliade, Hophni and Phinehas. 1 Sam. i, ii, iii, iv. Be

ginning with the first overthrow of Israel by the Philistines; interlac't with Samuel's vision concerning

Elie's family. xxii. Jonathan rescued. 1 Sam. xiv. xxii. Doeg slandering. 1 Sam. xxii. xxiv. The sheep-shearers in Carmel, a Pastoral. 1 Sam. XXV.;

Saul in Gilboa. 1 Sam. xxviii. xxxi. xxvi. David revolted. 1 Sam. from the xxvii. chap. to the xxxi. · xxvii. David adulterous. 2 Sam. xi, xii. xxviii. Tamar. 2 Sam. xiii. xxix. Achitophel. 2. Sam. xv, xvi, xvii, xviii. xxx. Adoniah. 1 Reg. ii. xxxi. Solomon Gynæcocratumenus, or Idolomargus, aut Thy.

siazusa. 1 Reg. xi.

XXV.

« ПредишнаНапред »