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176. "I hear the sound," &c. The Chorus have been speaking hitherto at some distance from Samson.
181. "From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale": i.e. from Samson's native district in the tribe of Dan. See Josh. xv. 33 and xix. 41, and Judges xiii. 2 and 25. (Newton.)
191-193. "In prosperous days," &c. Perhaps from Milton's own experience after the Restoration, when, though distinguished foreigners would seek him out, his English friends were chiefly a few grave and little-known persons of his own way of thinking. Others, however, among whom was Dryden, paid him visits of respect.
209. "drove me transverse," i.e. out of my course, referring to the previous image of the ship.
219. "at Timna." See Judges xiv. 1, where the word is "Timnath." 219-226. "she pleased me, not my parents," &c. Judges xiv. 2-4. Perhaps there may be an allusion to Milton's own first marriage with Mary Powell, who was of a Royalist family, at the very time when he himself was a known Parliamentarian (1643).
222. "motioned": printed "mentioned" in the First Edition, but with a direction among the Errata to read "motioned."
227. "She proving false." Judges xiv. 5-20.
227-229. "the next... Dalila." Judges xvi. 4. Observe the pronunciation Dalila. See note, Par. Lost, IX. 1059-62.
241-255. That fault I take not on me," &c.: with an occult reference perhaps to the conduct of those in power in England after Cromwell's death, when Milton still argued against the restoration of the King.
"ambition" here in its literal sense of
247. "Used no ambition": "going about," or canvassing."
252, 253. "who then," &c. Judges xv. 8.
263-276. But what more oft," &c. A plain reference to the state of England, and to Milton's own position there, after the Restoration. 278-281. "How Succoth," &c. . Judges viii. 5 et seq.
282-289. "And how ingrateful Ephraim," &c. Judges xii. 1 et sep. 297, 298. "for of such doctrine," &c. Ps. xiv. 1. Observe the peculiar effect of contempt given to the passage by the rapid rhythm and the sudden introduction of a rhyme in these two lines.
300-306. "Yet more there be," &c. Again observe the effect given in this passage by the peculiar versification, and the rhymes in the last four lines. We are reminded more of the metre in some parts of Goethe's Faust than of the older English metres.
318, 319. "this heroic Nazarite," &c. See Numb. vi. 1-21. Milton seems to think celibacy involved in the vow there described.
323-325. "Though Reason here aver," &c. Here, as in some of the preceding phrases, there is perhaps a hint of Milton's views of marriage, which regarded some of the current views as but so much "national obstriction." The meaning here seems to be, "Though rationally we must acquit Dalila of uncleanness, simply as being a heathen woman, yet, merely on this score, the Mosaic law did make her unclean; and we need not reason on the subject. Clean or unclean when married to Samson, she was subsequently unchaste--which, at any rate, was not his fault, if the marrying of her had been his fault." It seems to be a mere assumption that Dalila was a harlot ; but Milton makes it (P. L. IX. 1060, 1061).
333. "uncouth," unknown.
336, 337. "Your younger feet," &c. It has been acutely remarked by Newton that this passage is artfully introduced to account for the later arrival of Samson's father than of the chorus of Danites. He had set out at once, but could not come so fast.
354. "And such a son": the word "And" is omitted in the First Edition, but there is a direction among the Errata to insert it.
373. Appoint not," thought by some to mean "arraign not," or "blame not," according to old legal senses of the word; but perhaps simply "arrange not," according to the present sense.
390. "scent," spelt "sent" in the original, and always so spelt by Milton.
394. "capital secret" so in a double sense, as being the chief, and also as lying in the head (caput). Compare Par. Lost, XII. 383.
403. "blandished." To blandish is an old verb active, found in Chaucer.
424. "I state not that," i.e. I discuss not that. 434-439. "This day," &c. Judges xvi. 23.
453. "idolists," idolaters. See Par. Reg. IV. 234.
471. “blank," i.e. blanch, turn pale. Todd quotes Shakespeare, Ham. III. 2 :—
"Each opposite that blanks the face of joy."
496, 497. "The mark of fool set on his front!
But I God's secret have not kept, his holy secret”
So printed in the original edition, and also in the Second-only eight syllables in the first line, while there are thirteen in the second.
all recent editions the two lines are regularized by reading "But I” as part of the first line, thus
"The mark of fool set on his front! But I
God's secret have not kept, his holy secret."
I have preferred abiding by the original.
499-501. a sin that Gentiles in their parables condemn," &c. parables alluded to are such as that of Tantalus, condemned to Hell for divulging heavenly secrets.
516. "what offered means who knows but," &c.: "that offered means which who knows but," &c.-a peculiar Miltonic syntax. Mr. Keightley places a full stop at "means," and makes the next sentence interrogative, interpreting "set before us" as meaning "appointed us as a task." Besides being too arbitrary a deviation from the original pointing, this reading is harsh.
531. "affront," meeting face-to-face.
545. "that cheers," &c.
Judges ix. 13, and Prov. xxiii. 31. Todd compares also Par. Lost, V. 633, and Comus, 673.
549. "With touch ethereal of Heaven's fiery rod" supposed by Dunster to be a recollection from Euripides (Suppl. 652)
“ Λαμπρὰ μὲν ἀκτὶς, ἡλίου κανὼν σαφὴς,
550. "the clear milky juice." Mr. Keightley notes as follows:"This is certainly a strange periphrasis for pure running water. He had, however, already in Par. Lost (V. 306) termed water 'milky stream,' as resembling milk in sweetness; but 'juice' for fluid is surely a strong oxymoron. But he uses it with reference to the juice of the grape, to which he opposes it. He probably at this time had Æschylus read to him, who was addicted to the use of strong figures."
551. "refreshed," i.e. refreshed myself.
557. "Whose drink," &c. Samson was a Nazarite (Judges xiii. 7), and therefore under the vow of the Nazarites (Numb. vi. 2—5.)
569. "Robustious": full of force. Shakespeare has the word-" a robustious periwig-pated fellow." Ham. III. 2.-Richardson in his Dict. quotes instances of "robustious" 'robustiousness" from Drayton, Ben Jonson, Fuller, and others.
571. "craze." See Par. Lost, XII. 210.
574. "draff," refuse grains from the brewhouse; hence, any kind of refuse. Dunster quotes from Chaucer (Prol. to Parson's Tale) :
"Why shuld I sowen draff out of my fist
581-583. "caused a fountain... to spring," &c. Judges xv. 18, 19. In our version of this passage it is said that "God clave a hollow space in the jaw-bone with which Samson had fought; but Newton points out that another interpretation, which Milton follows here, supposed that the hollow space was cloven in a piece of ground (or rock) called Lehi, or "The Jaw."
590-598. "All otherwise," &c. Note the peculiar melancholy that breathes through this speech of Samson's-the singularly sorrowful cadence of the last five lines. In reading two of these, one feels as if Milton were remembering the similar two in one of Hamlet's soliloquies"How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable Seem to me all the uses of this world."
But the last line of all has a depth of its own—
"And I shall shortly be with them that rest.'
600. "humours black": our word melancholy literally means "black humour or "black bile," and preserves for us one of the notions of the old physiology, which accounted for diseases and states of the body and mind generally by the action of various kinds of "humours." This notion runs through the language of all our old writers; and Todd quotes a very apposite passage from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy:"The spirits being darkened, and the substance of the brain cloudy and dark, all the objects thereof appear terrible, and the mind itself, by those dark, obscure, gross fumes, ascending from black humours, is in continual darkness, fear, and sorrow," &c.
605. "healing words." Todd quotes the phrase from Euripides (Hippol. 478)
“ εἰσὶν δ ̓ ἐπῳδαὶ καὶ λόγοι θελκτήριοι.”
610-616. “But must," &c. Note the sudden rhymes in lines 610, 611, and lines 615, 616. See previous notes, lines 297, 298 and 300-306.
612. "accidents," attributes, properties.
627. "medicinal," in the original “ medcinal”; and, therefore, if we spell medicinal," we must not pronounce medicinal as some propose, and as was common enough. Medicinal pronounced in our present way comes nearer Milton's metre. Todd compares Comus, 636.
628. "Alp," used for mountain generally. See Par. Lost, II. 620. 632. "swoonings," in the original "swounings."
645. "repeated," again and again made: the verb; and not, as Mr. Keightley supposes, a substitute for the adverb "repeatedly."
652-659. "Many are the sayings," &c. In the original edition there. is a full stop after "frail life"; but there is a direction in the Errata to
remove it. The construction is "Many are the sayings, &c., extolling patience as the truest fortitude, and many are the consolatories to the bearing well, &c., writ with studied argument, &c."
658, 659. “with studied," &c. Observe the rhyme. See previous note, 610-616.
659. "Lenient of grief." Newton quotes Horace, Epist. 1. i. 34, "lenire dolorem."
667-686. Again here note the rhymes introduced-lines 668, 669, 672, 673, and 674, 675.
687-690. "To life obscured," &c. These four lines form a peculiar rhymed stanza. See previous note, lines 300-306.
693, 694. "their carcasses to dogs and fowls a prey": a translation, as Newton observed, of a well-known phrase at the beginning of the Iliad. 694. "captived," the accent on the second syllable. See line 33 and note there.
695-702. "Or to the unjust tribunals, under change of times," &c. There has been an occult reference all through this chorus to the wreck of the Puritan cause by the Restoration; but in these lines the reference becomes distinct. Milton has the trials of Vane and the Regicides in his mind. He himself had been in danger of the law; and, though he had escaped, it was to a "crude (premature) old age," afflicted by painful diseases, from which his temperate life might have been expected to exempt him. See note to line 4.
713, 714. "Sailing like a stately ship." The comparison of a fulldressed woman to a stately ship in full sail was, and is, common. Milton, as Todd noted, has the same image for a bishop in full canonicals. (Of Ref. in England.)
715, 716. "Tarsus" (in Cilicia)..." the isles of Javan," i.e. of Greece or Ionia Gadire," Gades in Spain.
720. "amber scent," i.e. scent of grey amber or ambergris. See note Par. Reg. II. 344.
748. "hyana." This beast was said to deceive people to its den by cries like those of the human voice in distress. Todd quotes from Ben Jonson (Fox, IV. 2) :
"Out, thou chameleon harlot! Now thine eyes
Vie tears with the hyæna."
759-762. "That wisest and best men," &c., Milton himself among them; whose reconciliation with his first wife, in July or August 1645, after her desertion of him for about two years, is thus described by his nephew Phillips: "One time above the rest, he making his usual visit Lat the house of a relative, named Blackborough, living in St. Martin's