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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 honours. In the meanwhile, Anicetus, to whose care Poppæa had been entrusted 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 Poppæa; 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 Poppæa, is much enraged; but not knowing that this interview was obtained through the treachery of Anice. tus, 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 Poppæa, 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's means, to destroy ber 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 Poppæa: 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 Poppæa 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 lo execute his resolves; and, under 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."
ACT I. SCENE I.
[Speaks as to Anicetus entering. The message needs no comment.
master, His mother shall obey him. Say, you saw her Yielding due reverence to his high command :
Alone, unguarded, and without a lictor,
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) 't will profit you, And please the stripling. Yet't would 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, unused 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 the unpledged bowl, they love not aconite.
He's gone : and much I hope these walls alone
And dost thou talk to me, to me, of danger,
This painted Jove, and taught his novice hand
Toshrink from danger: fear might then have worn
Through various life I have pursued your steps,
Hence rise my fears. Nor am I yet to learn
I well remember too (for I was present)
AGRIPPINA. 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.