페이지 이미지

These reasons in love's law have pass'd for good,
Though fond and reasonless to some perhaps;

And love hath oft, well meaning, wrought much woe,
Yet always pity or pardon hath obtain'd.

Be not unlike all others, not austere
As thou art strong, inflexible as steel.

If thou in strength all mortals dost exceed,
In uncompassionate anger do not so.

Sam. How cunningly the sorceress displays
Her own transgressions, to upbraid me mine!
That malice, not repentance, brought thee hither,
By this appears: I gave, thou say'st, the example;
I led the way: bitter reproach, but true:

I to myself was false ere thou to me;
Such pardon therefore as I give my folly,

Take to thy wicked deed; which when thou seest
Impartial, self-severe, inexorable,

Thou wilt renounce thy seeking, and much rather
Confess it feign'd. Weakness is thy excuse,
And I believe it; weakness to resist
Philistian gold: if weakness may excuse,
What murderer, what traitor, parricide,
Incestuous, sacrilegious, but may plead it?

All wickedness is weakness: that plea therefore
With God or man will gain thee no remission.
But love constrain'd thee; call it furious rage

To satisfy thy lust love seeks to have love;

My love how couldst thou hope, who took'st the way
To raise in me inexpiable hate,

Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray'd?1
In vain thou strivest to cover shame with shame,

Or by evasions thy crime uncover'st more.

Dal. Since thou determinest weakness for no plea







In man or woman, though to thy own condemning,
Hear what assaults I had, what snares besides,
What sieges girt me round, ere I consented;
Which might have awed the best-resolved of men,
The constantest, to have yielded without blame.
It was not gold, as to my charge thou layest,


That wrought with me: thou know'st, the magistrates

[blocks in formation]

Such pardon therefore as I give my folly,
Take to thy wicked deed, &c.

These sentiments of self-condemnation are expressed with wonderful dignity; they reflect all the noble and resolute virtue of the poet's own highly-principled mind.DUNSTER.

1 Knowing, as needs I must, by thee betray'd?

The same manner of speaking as in "Paradise Lost," b. ix. 792.

And knew not eating death.-NEWTON.

m Thou know'st, the magistrates, &c.

Judges xvi. 5:"And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said," &c. So exact is Milton in all the particulars of the story, and improves every incident.NEWTON.

And princes of my country came in person,
Solicited, commanded, threaten'd, urged,
Adjured by all the bonds of civil duty
And of religion, press'd how just it was,
How honourable, how glorious, to entrap
A common enemy, who had destroy'd
Such numbers of our nation: and the priest
Was not behind," but ever at my ear,
Preaching how meritorious with the gods
It would be to ensnare an irreligious
Dishonourer of Dagon; what had I

To oppose against such powerful arguments?
Only my love of thee held long debate,



And combated in silence all these reasons

With hard contest: at length, that grounded maxim,


So rife and celebrated in the mouths

Of wisest men, that-To the publick good

Private respects must yield-with grave authority

Took full possession of me, and prevail'd;

Virtue, as I thought, truth, duty, so enjoining.


Sam. I thought where all thy circling wiles would end;

In feign'd religion, smooth hypocrisy !

But had thy love, still odiously pretended,

Been, as it ought, sincere, it would have taught thee

Far other reasonings, brought forth other deeds.


I, before all the daughters of my tribe

And of my nation, chose thee from among

My enemies, loved thee, as too well thou knew'st;
Too well; unbosom'd all my secrets to thee,
Not out of levity, but overpower'd


Compare the account related by Sallust, of Cicero, who secured the harlot Fulvia to his interest; and through her means gained, by the force of promises, his intelligence of Catiline's machinations from Q. Curius, who was engaged in the conspiracy, and with whom Fulvia was criminally connected: "A principio consulatus sui, multa per Fulviam pollicendo, effecerat, ut Q. Curius (cui cum Fulvia stupri vetus consuetudo) consilia Catilinæ sibi proderet."-TODD.

[blocks in formation]

The character of the priest, which makes a conspicuous figure here, is the poet's own addition to the scriptural account. It is obviously a satire on the ministers of the church.-DUNSTER.

o Loved thee, as too well thou knew'st.

There is an inconsistency here with what Samson had said before: here he professes a violent affection for Dalila, as the sole motive of his marrying her; whereas he had before asserted that he was in a certain degree determined to it by hopes of finding occasion thereby to oppress the Philistines, ver. 234. Manoah likewise says, that Samson pleaded "divine impulsion" for both his marriages, ver. 422. But Milton may be understood to have imagined Samson, in his marriage with Dalila, acting merely from inclination, and (as people who do so are apt to reason falsely in their own vindication) falsely attributing and ascribing it to divine impulse. This is consistent with what is said, ver. 532, where Samson describes himself "swollen with pride," that is, at his superior strength; and on that account, as it seems, deserted by God, and falling into the "snare of fair fallacious looks," &c. So that what he here says to Dalila is true; and the real motives of his marrying her were, that he "loved her," as he himself says, "too well."-Dunster.

By thy request, who could deny thee nothing;
Yet now am judged an enemy. Why then
Didst thou at first receive me for thy husband,
Then, as since then, thy country's foe profess'd?
Being once a wife, for me thou wast to leave
Parents and country; nor was I their subject,
Nor under their protection, but my own;
Thou mine, not theirs: if aught against my life
Thy country sought of thee, it sought unjustly,
Against the law of nature, law of nations;
No more thy country, but an impious crew
Of men conspiring to uphold their state

By worse than hostile deeds; violating the ends
For which our country is a name so dear;

Not therefore to be obey'd. But zeal moved thee;
To please thy gods thou didst it: gods unable
To acquit themselves and prosecute their foes
But by ungodly deeds, the contradiction.
Of their own deity, gods cannot be;
Less therefore to be pleased, obey'd, or fear'd.
These false pretexts and varnish'd colours failing,1
Bare in thy guilt, how foul must thou appear!
Dal. In argument with men a woman ever

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Goes by the worst, whatever be her cause.

Sam. For want of words no doubt, or lack of breath:


Witness when I was worried with thy peals.

Dal. I was a fool, too rash, and quite mistaken

In what I thought would have succeeded best.
Let me obtain forgiveness of thee, Samson;
Afford me place to show what recompense
Towards thee I intend for what I have misdone,
Misguided; only what remains past cure
Bear not too sensibly, nor still insist


To afflict thyself in vain: though sight be lost,
Life yet hath many solaces, enjoy'd


Where other senses want not their delights
At home in leisure and domestic ease,

Exempt from many a care and chance, to which
Eye-sight exposes daily men abroad.

I to the lords will intercede, not doubting

P Being once a wife.


Here seems again an allusion to the poet's own case with reference to the cause of the parliamentarians against that of the king, to which his wife was attached.

q And varnish'd colours failing.

See his "Prose Works," vol. i. p. 161, ed. 1698. "Painting his lewd and deceitful principles with a smooth and glossy varnish in a doctrinall way, to bring about his wickedest purposes." I apprehend that Milton might employ the expression in allusion to St. James's description of the tongue, which is called “ the varnish of iniquity," as it should be rendered. See Wetstein in Jac. iii. 6.-TODD.

Though sight be lost, &c.

We have a similar sentiment in Cicero, "Tuse. Quæst." "Animo autem multis modis variisque delectari licet, etiam si non adhibeatur aspectus," 1. v. c. 38.-DUNster.

Their favourable ear, that I may fetch thee
From forth this loathsome prison-house, to abide
With me, where my redoubled love and care
With nursing diligence, to me glad office,

May ever tend about thee to old age

With all things grateful cheer'd, and so supplied,


That, what by me thou hast lost, thou least shalt miss.
Sam. No, no; of my condition take no care;

It fits not; thou and I long since are twain:
Nor think me so unwary or accursed,
To bring my feet again into the snare

Where once I have been caught: I know thy trains,
Though dearly to my cost, thy gins, and toils:
Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms,

No more on me have power; their force is null'd;
So much of adder's wisdom I have learn'd,t
To fence my ear against thy sorceries.

If in my flower of youth and strength, when all men
Loved, honour'd, fear'd me, thou alone couldst hate me
Thy husband, slight me, sell me, and forego me;
How wouldst thou use me now, blind, and thereby
Deceivable, in most things as a child

Helpless, thence easily contemn'd, and scorn'd,
And last neglected! How wouldst thou insult,
When I must live uxorious to thy will

In perfect thraldom; how again betray me,
Bearing my words and doings to the lords.
To gloss upon, and, censuring, frown or smile!
This jail I count the house of liberty

To thine, whose doors my feet shall never enter.

Dal. Let me approach at least, and touch thy hand.
Sam. Not for thy life, lest fierce remembrance wake

My sudden rage to tear thee joint by joint."
At distance I forgive thee; go with that:
Bewail thy falschood, and the pious works

Thy fair enchanted cup, and warbling charms.







Alluding, no doubt, to the story of Circe and the sirens: but did not our author's fondness for Greek learning make him here forget that it is a little out of character to represent Samson acquainted with the mythology of that country? It seems the more odd, as the allusion to the adder, immediately following, is taken from Scripture.THYER.

He might as well be supposed to know the story of Circe and the sirens, as of Tantalus, &c., before, v. 500; and there is no more impropriety in the one than in the other. -NEWTON.

Mr. Thyer's observation is, however, just; and Dr. Johnson has not forgotten to notice the impropriety of all these allusions. Mr. Glasse, in his translation, and Mr. Penn, in his alteration, of this tragedy, have omitted these objectionable passages.-TODD.

So much of adder's wisdom I have learn'd.

The allusion is to Psalm lviii. 4, 5:"They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear: which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely."-NEWTON.

u To tear thee joint by joint.

Milton perhaps recollected blind Polymestor's desire of revenge upon Hecuba, in the play of that name by Euripides, v. 1125, ed. Barnes.-TODD.

It hath brought forth to make thee memorable
Among illustrious women, faithful wives!
Cherish thy hasten'd widowhood with the gold
Of matrimonial treason! so farewell.

Dal. I see thou art implacable, more deaf

To prayers than winds and seas; yet winds to seas
Are reconciled at length, and sea to shore:
Thy anger, unappeasable, still rages,
Eternal tempest, never to be calm'd.
Why do I humble thus myself, and, suing
For peace, reap nothing but repulse and hate;
Bid go with evil omen, and the brand
Of infamy upon my name denounced?
To mix with thy concernments I desist
Henceforth, nor too much disapprove my own.
Fame, if not double-faced, is double-mouth'd,
And with contrary blast proclaims most deeds;
On both his wings, one black, the other white,"
Bears greatest names in his wild aery flight.
My name perhaps among the circumcised
In Dan, in Judah, and the bordering tribes,
To all posterity may stand defamed,
With malediction mention'd, and the blot

▾ Cherish thy hasten'd widowhood.

This sarcastical irony is very fine.

w On both his wings, one black, the other white.

Milton, in his poem, "In Quint Nov." speaking of Fame, says,

Induit et variis exilia corpora plumis.





I do not recollect any instance of Fame having two wings of different colours assigned by any of the Roman poets. Milton seems to have equipped his deity very characteristically, by borrowing one wing from Infamy, and another from Victory or Glory, as they are both described by Silius Italicus; where Virtue contrasts herself with Pleasure, or Dissipation, 1. xv. 95:


Circa te semper volitans Infamia pennis;
Mecum Honor, et Laudes, et leto Gloria vultu,

Et Decus, et niveis Victoria concolor alis.

Ben Jonson, in one of his Masks, introduces Fama Bona attired in white, with white wings; and she terms herself "the white-wing'd maid."-DUNster.

x Bears greatest names in his wild aery flight.

I think Fame has passed for a goddess ever since Hesiod deified her. Milton makes her a god, I know not why, unless secundum eos, qui dicunt utriusque sexus participationem habere numina. So, in his "Lycidas," he says, unless it be a false print,

So may some gentle Muse

With lucky words favour my destined urn,
And as he passes turn;

where Muse in the masculine for poet is very bold.

Perhaps it should here also be,

Bears greatest names in his wide aery flight.

What Milton says of Fame's bearing great names on his wings, seems to be partly from Horace, "Od." 11. ii. 7 :—

Illum aget penna metuente solvi

Fama superstes-JORTIN.

I apprehend that "wild" is full as applicable as "wide" to the character and office of Fame; and thus Shakspeare, "Othello," a. ii. s. 1:—

That paragons description and wild fame.-TODD.

[ocr errors]
« 이전계속 »