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Thence what the lofty grave Tragedians taught
In chorus or iambic, teachers best
Of moral prudence, with delight received
In brief sententious precepts, while they treat
Of fate, and chance, and change in human life,
High actions and high passions best describing.
Thence to the famous Orators repair,
Those ancient whose resistless eloquence
Wielded at will that fierce democraty,
Shook the Arsenal, and fulmined over Greece
To Macedon and Artaxerxes' throne.
To sage Philosophy next lend thine ear,
From heaven descended to the low-roofèd house
Of Socrates see there his tenement,
Whom, well inspired, the Oracle pronounced
Wisest of men; from whose mouth issued forth
Mellifluous streams, that watered all the schools
Of Academics old and new, with those
Surnamed Peripatetics, and the sect
Epicurean, and the Stoic severe.
These here revolve, or, as thou likest, at home,
Till time mature thee to a kingdom's weight;
These rules will render thee a king complete
Within thyself, much more with empire joined.”

To whom our Saviour sagely thus replied: -
“Think not but that I know these things; or, think
I know them not, not therefore am I short
Of knowing what I ought. He who receives
Light from above, from the Fountain of Light,
No other doctrine needs, though granted true;
But these are false, or little else but dreams,
Conjectures, fancies, built on nothing firm.
The first and wisest of them all professed
To know this only, that he nothing knew;
The next to fabling fell and smooth conceits;

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A third sort doubted all things, though plain sense;
Others in virtue placed felicity,
But virtue joined with riches and long life;
In corporal pleasure he, and careless ease;
The Stoic last in philosophic pride,
By him called virtue, and his virtuous man,
Wise, perfect in himself, and all possessing,
Equal to God, oft shames not to prefer,
As fearing God nor man, contemning all
Wealth, pleasure, pain or torment, death and life —
Which, when he lists, he leaves, or boasts he can;
For all his tedious talk is but vain boast,
Or subtle shifts conviction to evade.
Alas! what can they teach, and not mislead,
Ignorant of themselves, of God much more,
And how the World began, and how Man fell,
Degraded by himself, on grace depending?
Much of the Soul they talk, but all awry;
And in themselves seek virtue; and to themselves
All glory arrogate, to God give none;
Rather accuse him under usual names,
Fortune and Fate, as one regardless quite
Of mortal things. Who, therefore, seeks in these
True wisdom finds her not, or, by delusion
Far worse, her false resemblance only meets,
An empty cloud. However, many books,
Wise men have said, are wearisome; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings what needs he elsewhere seek?)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep-versed in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys
And trifles for choice matters, worth a sponge,
As children gathering pebbles on the shore.

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Or, if I would delight my private hours
With music or with poem, where so soon
As in our native language can I find
That solace? All our Law and Story strewed
With hymns, our Psalms with artful terms inscribed,
Our Hebrew songs and harps, in Babylon
That pleased so well our victor's ear, declare
That rather Greece from us these arts derived
Ill imitated while they loudest sing
The vices of their deities, and their own,
In fable, hymn, or song, so personating
Their gods ridiculous, and themselves past shame.
Remove their swelling epithets, thick-laid
As varnish on a harlot's cheek, the rest,
Thin-sown with aught of profit or delight,
Will far be found unworthy to compare
With Sion's songs, to all true tastes excelling,
Where God is praised aright and godlike men,
The Holiest of Holies and his Saints
(Such are from God inspired, not such from thee);
Unless where moral virtue is expressed
By light of Nature, not in all quite lost.
Their orators thou then extoll'st as those
The top of eloquence - statists indeed,
And lovers of their country, as may seem;
But herein to our Prophets far beneath,
As men divinely taught, and better teaching
The solid rules of civil government,
In their majestic, unaffected style,
Than all the oratory of Greece and Rome.
In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt,
What makes a nation happy, and keeps it so,
What ruins kingdoms, and lays cities flat;
These only, with our Law, best form a king."

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FROM SAMSON AGONISTES Samson. . . . But, chief of all, O loss of sight, of thee I most complain! Blind among enemies! O worse than chains, Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, And all her various objects of delight Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased. Inferior to the vilest now become Of man or worm, the vilest here excel me: They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, Within doors, or without, still as a fool, In power of others, never in my own Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse Without all hope of day! O first-created Beam, and thou great Word, “Let there be light, and light was over all,” Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree? The Sun to me is dark And silent as the Moon, When she deserts the night, Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. Since light so necessary is to life,

90 And almost life itself, if it be true That light is in the soul, She all in every part, why was the sight To such a tender ball as the eye confined, So obvious and so easy to be quenched, And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused, That she might look at will through every pore? Then had I not been thus exiled from light,

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As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but, O yet more miserable!
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;
Buried, yet not exempt,
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs;
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.

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Manoa. Come, come; no time for lamentation now, Nor much more cause. Samson hath quit himself Like Samson, and heroicly hath finished A life heroic, on his enemies Fully revenged — hath left them years of mourning, And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel Honour hath left and freedom, let but them Find courage to lay hold on this occasion; To himself and father's house eternal fame; And, which is best and happiest yet, all this With God not parted from him, as was feared, But favouring and assisting to the end. Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt, Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair, And what may quiet us in a death so noble. Let us go find the body where it lies Soaked in his enemies' blood, and from the stream With lavers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while (Gaza is not in plight to say us nay), Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,

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