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AGRIPPINA, the Empress-mother.

NERO, the Emperor.

POPPAA, believed to be in love with OTнo.

Отно, a young man of quality, in love with POPPA.

SENECA, the Emperor's Preceptor.

ANICETUS, Captain of the Guards.

DEMETRIUS, the Cynic, friend to SENECA.
ACERONIA, Confidant to AGrippina.

SCENE-The Emperor's villa at Baiæ.

"THE argument drawn out by him, in these two papers, (says Mr. Mason, in his Edition of Gray) under the idea of a plot and under-plot, I shall here unite; as it will tend to show that the action itself was possessed of sufficient unity.

"The drama opens with the indignation of Agrippina, at receiving her son's orders from Anicetus to remove from Baiæ, and to have her guard taken from her. At this time Otho having conveyed Poppæa from the house of her husband Rufus Crispinus, brings her to Baiæ, where he means to conceal her among the crowd; or, if his fraud is discovered, to have recourse to the Emperor's authority: but, knowing the lawless temper of Nero, he determines not to have recourse to that expedient but on the utmost necessity. In the mean time he commits her to the care of Anicetus, whom he takes to be his friend, and in whose age he thinks he may safely confide. Nero is not yet come to Baiæ: but Seneca, whom he sends before him, informs Agrippina of the accusation concerning Rubellius Plancus, and desires her to clear herself, which she does briefly; but demands to see her son, who, on his arrival, acquits her of all suspicion, and restores her to her honours. In the mean while, Anicetus, to whose care Poppea had been intrusted by Otho, contrives the following plot to ruin Agrippina: he betrays his trust to Otho, and brings Nero, as it were by chance, to the sight of the beautiful Poppaa: the Emperor is immediately struck with her charms, and she, by a feigned resistance, increases his passion; though, in reality, she is from the first dazzled with the prospect of empire, and forgets Otho she therefore joins with Anicetus in his design of ruining Agrippina, soon perceiving that it will be for her interest. Otho, hearing that the Emperor had seen Poppaa, is much enraged; but not knowing that this interview was obtained through the treachery of Anicetus, is readily persuaded by him to see Agrippina in secret, and acquaint her with his fears that her son Nero would marry Poppæa. Agrippina, to support her own power, and to wean the Emperor from the love of Poppaa, gives Otho encouragement, and promises to support him. Anicetus secretly introduces Nero to hear their discourse; who resolves immediately on his mother's death, and, by Anicetus' means, to destroy her by drowning. A solemn feast, in honour of their reconciliation, is to be made; after which, she being to go by sea to Bauli, the ship is so contrived as to sink or crush her: she escapes by accident, and returns to Baiæ. In this interval Otho has an interview with Poppaa; and being duped a second time by Anicetus and her, determines to fly with her into Greece, by means of a vessel which is to be furnished by Anicetus; but he, pretending to remove Poppaa on board in the night, conveys her to Nero's apartment: she then encourages and determines Nero to banish Otho, and finish the horrid deed he had attempted on his mother. Anicetus undertakes to execute his resolves; and, under a pretence of a plot upon the Emperor's life, is sent with a guard to murder Agrippina, who is still at Baiæ in imminent fear, and irresolute how to conduct herself. The account of her death, and the Emperor's horror and fruitless remorse, finishes the drama."



AGRIP. 'TIS well, begone! your errand is perform'd, [Speaks as to Anicetus entering. The message needs no comment. Tell your master, His mother shall obey him. Say you saw her Yielding due reverence to his high command : Alone, unguarded and without a lictor, As fits the daughter of Germanicus.

Say, she retir'd to Antium, there to tend
Her household cares, a woman's best employment.
What if you add, how she turn'd pale and trembled ;
You think, you spied a tear stand in her eye,

And would have dropp'd, but that her pride restrain'd it?
(Go! you can paint it well) 'twill profit you,
And please the stripling. Yet 'twould dash his joy

To hear the spirit of Britannicus

Yet walks on earth: at least there are who know
Without a spell to raise, and bid it fire

A thousand haughty hearts, unus'd to shake
When a boy frowns, nor to be lured with smiles
To taste of hollow kindness, or partake

His hospitable board: they are aware
Of th' unpledg'd bowl, they love not aconite.

ACER. He's gone: and much I hope these walls alone

And the mute air are privy to your passion.

Forgive your servant's fears, who sees the danger
Which fierce resentment cannot fail to raise

In haughty youth, and irritated power.

AGRIP. And dost thou talk to me, to me of danger, Of haughty youth and irritated power,

To her that gave it being, her that arm'd

This painted Jove, and taught his novice hand

To aim the forked bolt; while he stood trembling,
Scar'd at the sound, and dazzled with its brightness?
'Tis like, thou hast forgot, when yet a stranger
To adoration, to the grateful steam

Of flattery's incense, and obsequious vows
From voluntary realms, a puny boy,

Deck'd with no other lustre, than the blood
Of Agrippina's race, he liv'd unknown

To fame, or fortune; haply eyed at distance
Some edileship, ambitious of the power

To judge of weights and measures; scarcely dar'd
On expectation's strongest wing to soar

High as the consulate, that empty shade

Of long-forgotten liberty: when I

Oped his young eye to bear the blaze of greatness;
Shew'd him where empire tower'd, and bade him strike
The noble quarry. Gods! then was the time

To shrink from danger; fear might then have worn
The mask of prudence: but a heart like mine,
A heart that glows with the pure Julian fire,
If bright ambition from her craggy seat
Display the radiant prize, will mount undaunted,
Gain the rough heights, and grasp the dangerous honour.

ACER. Through various life I have pursued your steps,
Have seen your soul, and wonder'd at its daring
Hence rise my fears. Nor am I yet to learn
How vast the debt of gratitude which Nero
To such a mother owes; the world you gave him
Suffices not to pay the obligation.

I well remember too (for I was present) When in a secret and dead hour of night, Due sacrifice perform'd with barb'rous rites Of mutter'd charms, and solemn invocation, You bade the Magi call the dreadful powers, That read futurity, to know the fate Impending o'er your son: their answer was, If the son reign, the mother perishes.' Perish (you cried) the mother! reign the son! He reigns, the rest is heav'n's; who oft has bade, Ev'n when its will seem'd wrote in lines of blood, Th' unthought event disclose a whiter meaning. Think too how oft in weak and sickly minds The sweets of kindness lavishly indulg'd Rankle to gall; and benefits, too great To be repaid, sit heavy on the soul, As unrequited wrongs. The willing homage Of prostrate Rome, the senate's joint applause, The riches of the earth, the train of pleasures That wait on youth, and arbitrary sway;These were your gift, and with them you bestow'd The very power he has to be ungrateful.

AGRIP. Thus ever grave and undisturb'd reflection Pours its cool dictates in the madding ear

Of rage, and thinks to quench the fire it feels not.
Say'st thou I must be cautious, must be silent,
And tremble at the phantom I have raised?
Carry to him thy timid counsels. He
Perchance may heed 'em tell him too, that one
Who had such liberal power to give, may still
With equal power resume that gift, and raise
A tempest that shall shake her own creation
To its original atoms-tell me, say!


This mighty emperor, this dreaded hero,
Has he beheld the glittering front of war?
Knows his soft ear the trumpet's thrilling vo
And outcry of the battle? Have his limbs
Sweat under iron harness? Is he not

The silken son of dalliance, nurs'd in ease
And pleasure's flow'ry lap ?-Rubellius lives,
And Sylla has his friends, though school'd by fear
To bow the supple knee, and court the times
With shows of fair obeisance; and a call,
Like mine, might serve belike to wake pretensions
Drowsier than theirs, who boast the genuine blood
Of our imperial house.

ACER. Did I not wish to check this dangerous passion,
I might remind my mistress that her nod
Can rouse eight hardy legions, wont to stem
With stubborn nerves the tide, and face the rigour
Of bleak Germania's snows. Four, not less brave,
That in Armenia quell the Parthian force
Under the warlike Corbulo, by you

Mark'd for their leader: these, by ties confirm'd,
Of old respect and gratitude, are yours.
Surely the Masians too, and those of Egypt,
Have not forgot your sire: the eye of Rome,
And the Prætorian camp have long rever'd,
With custom'd awe, the daughter, sister, wife,
And mother of their Cæsars.


Ha! by Juno,

On this base

It bears a noble semblance.
My great revenge shall rise; or say we sound
The trump of liberty; there will not want,

Even in the servile senate, ears to own
Her spirit-stirring voice; Soranus there,


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