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Lay stored, in what part summ'd, that she might know:
Thrice I deluded her, and turn'd to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly, and with what impudence

She purposed to betray me; and (which was worse
Than undissembled hate) with what contempt
She sought to make me traitor to myself:

Yet the fourth time, when, mustering all her wiles,
With blandish'd parlies, feminine assaults,
Tongue-batteries, she surceased not, day nor night,
To storm me overwatch'd, and wearied out,
At times when men seek most repose and rest,
I yielded, and unlock'd her all my heart,
Who, with a grain of manhood well resolved,
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yoked
Her bond-slave; O indignity, O blot!1
To honour and religion! servile mind
Rewarded well with servile punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fallen,
These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base
As was my former servitude, ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,

True slavery, and that blindness worse than this,
That saw not how degenerately I served.

Man. I cannot praise thy marriage-choices, son,
Rather approved them not; but thou didst plead
Divine impulsion prompting how thou mightst
Find some occasion to infest our foes.

I state not that; this I am sure, our foes

Found soon occasion thereby to make thee

Their captive, and their triumph; thou the sooner
Temptation found'st, or over-potent charms,

To violate the sacred trust of silence

Tongue-batteries, &c.








The phrase was probably suggested by Shakspeare, "King Henry VI." p. i. a. iii. s. 3:I am vanquish'd; these haughty words of hers

Have batter'd me like roaring cannon-shot, &c.

That this passage was in the poet's mind, may be farther proved, I think, from ver. 235 :-
Who, vanquish'd with a peal of words,
Gave up my fort.

Compare also the following passage in an old drama, entitled "The History of the Tryall of Cheualry," &c., 4to., 1605 :


Pearst with the volley of thy battring words.

The scriptural account is this:-"And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him so that his soul was vexed unto death, that he told her all his heart," Judges xvi. 16, 17.-TODD.

10 indignity, O blot, &c.

Nothing could give the reader a better idea of a great and heroic spirit in the circumstances of Samson, than this sudden gust of indignation and passionate self-reproach upon the mentioning of his weakness. Besides, there is something vastly grand and noble in his reflection upon his present condition on this occasion:

These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base, &c.-THYER.

Deposited within thee; which to have kept
Tacit, was in thy power: true; and thou bear'st
Enough, and more, the burden of that fault;
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying,
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains:
This day the Philistines a popular feast
Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim
Great pomp, and sacrifice, and praises loud,
To Dagon, as their god, who hath deliver'd

Thee, Samson, bound and blind into their hands,
Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a slain
So Dagon shall be magnified, and God,
Besides whom is no god, compared with idols,
Disglorified, blasphemed, and had in scorn
By the idolatrous rout amidst their wine;
Which to have come to pass by means of thee,
Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest,
Of all reproach the most with shame that ever
Could have befallen thee and thy father's house.
Sam. Father, I do acknowledge and confess,
That I this honour, I this pomp, have brought
To Dagon, and advanced his praises high
Among the heathen round; to God have brought
Dishonour, obloquy, and oped the mouths
Of idolists and atheists; have brought scandal
To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt
In feeble hearts, propense enough before
To waver, or fall off and join with idols;
Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow,
The anguish of my soul, that suffers not
Mine eye to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest.
This only hope relieves me, that the strife
With me hath end; all the contest is now
"Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presumed,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
His deity comparing and preferring
Before the God of Abraham. He, be sure,
Will not connive or linger, thus provoked;
But will arise, and his great name assert:
Dagon must stoop, and shall ere long receive
Such a discomfit, as shall quite despoil him
Of all these boasted trophies won on me,
And with confusion blank his worshippers."










m This day the Philistines a popular feast, &c. Judges xvi. 23:-"Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together, for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand," &c. This incident the poet has finely improved, and with great judgment he has put this reproach of Samson into the mouth of his father, rather than any other of the dramatis persona.-NEWTON.

n Blank his worshippers.

That is, confound. So, in "Hamlet," a. iii. s. 2.

Man. With cause this hope relieves thee, and these words

I as a prophecy receive; for God,

Nothing more certain, will not long defer

To vindicate the glory of his name
Against all competition, nor will long
Endure it doubtful whether God be Lord,

Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done?
Thou must not in the mean while here forgot,
Lie in this miserable loathsome plight,
Neglected. I already have made my way
To some Philistian lords, with whom to treat
About thy ransom: well they may by this
Have satisfied their utmost of revenge

By pains and slaveries, worse than death, inflicted

On thee, who now no more canst do them harm.




Sam. Spare that proposal, father; spare the trouble
Of that solicitation; let me here,

As I deserve, pay on my punishment;

And expiate, if possible, my crime,

Shameful garrulity. To have reveal'd
Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend,

But I

How heinous had the fact been, how deserving
Contempt and scorn of all, to be excluded
All friendship, and avoided as a blab,
The mark of fool set on his front!
God's counsel have not kept, his holy secret
Presumptuously have publish'd, impiously,
Weakly at least, and shamefully; a sin
That Gentiles in their parables condemn P
To their abyss and horrid pains confined.

Each opposite that blanks the face of joys.

Milton often uses the adjective "blank" also in the sense of confounded.-TODD.

I as a prophecy receive.

• And these words




This method of one person's taking an omen from the words of another, was frequently practised among the ancients; and in these words the downfall of Dagon's worshippers is artfully presignified, as the death of Samson is in other places; but Manoah, as it was natural, accepts the good omen, without thinking of the evil that is to follow.-NEWTON.

P That Gentiles in their parables condemn, &c.

Alluding to the story of Tantalus, who for revealing the secrets of the gods was condemned to pains in hell. Cicero, "Tusc. Disp." iv. 16. "Poetæ impendere apud inferos saxum Tantalo faciunt ob scelera, animique impotentiam, et superbiloquentiam.” Euripides assigns the same punishment, and for the same reason, "Orestes," v. 8.

Mr. Warburton's remark is that "the ancient mystagogues taught, that the gods punished both the revealers and the violators of their mysteries. Milton had here in his eye that fine passage of Virgil, "Æn." vi. 617.

Sedet, æternumque sedebit,

Infelix Theseus, Phlegyasque miserrimus omnes
Admonet, &c.-NEWTON.

The passage, cited by Dr. Newton from the "Tusculan Questions" does not explain the story of Tantalus as here referred to: neither does the passage from Euripides without its gloss from the scholiast; where indeed it is said that Tantalus was punished for revealing the mysteries of the gods. But the classical authority in Milton's mind I suppose to have been that of Ovid, who expressly ascribes the punishment of Tantalus

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;
Which argues over-just, and self-displeased
For self offence, more than for God offended.
Reject not then what offer'd means, who knows
But God hath set before us, to return thee
Home to thy country and his sacred house,
Where thou mayst bring thy offerings, to avert
His farther ire, with prayers and vows renew'd?

Sam. His pardon I implore; but as for life,
To what end should I seek it? when in strength
All mortals I excell'd, and great in hopes,

With youthful courage, and magnanimous thoughts
Of birth from heaven foretold, and high exploits,
Full of divine instinct, after some proof

Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond

The sons of Anak, famous now and blazed;
Fearless of danger, like a petty god

I walk'd about admired of all, and dreaded
On hostile ground, none daring my affront;
Then swollen with pride, into the snare I fell
Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains,"
Soften'd with pleasure and voluptuous life;

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At length to lay my head and hallow'd pledge








to his shameful garrulity, which is said to be a grievous crime, "De Art. Amandi,” ii. 601, &c.-DUNSTER.

Reject not then what offer'd means.

That is, those means, which who knows but God hath set before us: "what" for "those which." The expression is a little hard, but to this effect: "Reject not these means of ransom, which, for anything one can tell, God may have set before us, or suggested to us, in order to return thee," &c.-HURD.

r Into the snare I fell

Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains.

See Fairfax's translation of Tasso, b. iv. 26, where Hedroart, sending Armida to seduce the Christian host, and, if possible, its leader, bids her

Frame snares of looks, trains of alluring speech.-DUNSTER.

At length to lay my head, &c.

Compare Spenser's "Faerie Queene," ii. vi. 14.

Thus when shee had his eyes and sences fed

With false delights, and fill'd with pleasures vayn,

Into a shady vale she soft him led,

And layd him downe upon a grassy playn:

She sett beside, laying his head disarm'd
In her loose lap.-TODD.

Of all my strength in the lascivious lap
Of a deceitful concubine, who shore me,
Like a tame wether, all my precious fleece;
Then turn'd me out ridiculous, despoil'd,
Shaven, and disarm'd among mine enemies.

Cho. Desire of wine, and all delicious drinks,
Which many a famous warriour overturns,
Thou couldst repress; nor did the dancing ruby,t
Sparkling, out-pour'd, the flavour, or the smell,
Or taste that cheers the heart of gods and men,"
Allure thee from the cool crystalline stream.▾

Sam. Wherever fountain or fresh current flow'd
Against the eastern ray, translucent, pure
With touch ethereal of Heaven's fiery rod,x
I drank, from the clear milky juice allaying
Thirst, and refresh'd; nor envied them the grape,
Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with fumes.
Cho. O, madness, to think use of strongest wines
And strongest drinks our chief support of health,
When God with these forbidden made choice to rear
His mighty champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.

t The dancing ruby, &c.





Dr. Newton and Mr. Thyer remark, that the poet probably alludes to Prov. xxiii. 31. "Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright." Milton has also "rubied nectar," "Par. Lost," b. v. 633. And dancing he has transferred hither from his "Comus," v. 673.

And first behold this cordial julep here,

That flames and dances in his crystal bounds.-TODD.

u Or taste that cheers the heart of gods and men.

Judges ix. 13, "Wine which cheereth God and man." Milton says "gods," which is a just paraphrase, meaning the hero-gods of the heathen. Jotham is here speaking to

an idolatrous city, that "ran a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god;" a god sprung from among men, as may be partly collected from his name, as well as from divers other circumstances of the story. Hesiod, in a similiar expression, says that "the vengeance of the Fates pursued the crimes of gods and men," Theog. v. 220.WARBURTON.

▾ Cool crystalline stream.

Borrowed by Mason, in his additions to Gray's fragment of an "Ode to Vicissitude." w Whererer fountain or fresh current flow'd

Against the eastern ray, &c.

This circumstance was very probably suggested to our author by Tasso's poem Mondo creato," giorna iii. st. 8.-THYER.


Mr. Geddes, in his learned and entertaining "Essay on the Composition, &c., of Plato," considers these lines of Milton as possessing much of the same spirit, though applied to another thing, with a passage in the philosopher's "Io," p. 533, 534, tom. i. edit. Serran., where, speaking of the poets, he says, "As soon as they enter the winding mazes of harmony, they became lymphatic, and rove like the furious Bacchanals, who in their frenzy drew honey and milk out of the rivers. The poets tell us the same thing of themselves," &c. Essay, 1748, p. 184.-TODD.

With touch ethereal of heaven's fiery rod.

This description of the first ray of light at the moment of sunrise, is eminently bold and beautiful. We might trace it to Euripides, "Suppl." 652, to which Dr. Hurd refers Milton's "long-level'd rule of streaming light," Comus, v. 340.-DUNSTER.

y Whose drink, &c.

Samson was a Nazarite, Judges xiii. 7; therefore to drink no wine, nor shave his head. See Numb. vi. Amos ii. 12.-RICHARDSON.

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