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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."

MASON,

ACT I. SCENE I.
AGRIPPINA. ACERONIA.

AGRIPPINA.
'Tis well, begone! your errand is perform’d.

[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 :

Tell your

Alone, unguarded, and without a lictor,
As fits the daughter of Germanicus.
Say, she retired to Antium ; there to tend
Her household cares, a woman's best employment.
What if you add, how she turn'd pale and trem-

bled;

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.

ACERONIA.

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.

AGRIPPINA.

And dost thou talk to me, to me, of danger,
Of haughty youth, and irritated power,
To her that gave it being, ber that arm'd

This painted Jove, and taught his novice hand
To aim the forked bolt; while he stood trembling,
Scared at the sound, and dazzled with its bright-

ness?
'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 lived unknown
To fame, or fortune; haply eyed at distance
Some edileship, ambitious of the power
To judge of weights and measures ; scarcely dared
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;
Show'd him where empire tower'd, and bade

him strike
The noble quarry. Gods! then was the timo

Toshrink 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.

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ACERONIA.

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 barbarous 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 heaven's; who oft has bade,
Een when its will seem'd wrote in lines of blood,
The' untaught event disclose a whiter meaning.
Think too how oft in weak and sickly mind's
The sweets of kindness lavishly indulged
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.

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.

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