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< select it from two detached papers. The Title « and Dramatis Personæ are as follow :
Agrippina, the Empress mother.
SCENE, the Emperor's villa at Baia.
“ The argument drawn out by him, in these two pa
pers, 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 Agrippi
na, at receiving her son's orders from Anicetus
to remove from Baiæ, and to have her guard ta« ken from her. At this time Otho having con“ veyed Poppæá from the house of her husband Ru“ fus 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 re« course to that expedient but on the utmost neces
In the meantime he commits her to the care of Anicetus, whom he takes to be his friend, 66 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 de“sires 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 Poppæa had been entrusted by tho, “ 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, in
creases his passion ; though, in reality, she is « from the first dazzled with the prospect of em“pire, and forgets Otho: She therefore joins with “ Anicetus in his design of ruining Agrippina, soon
perceiving that it will be for her interest. Otho Se hearing that the Emperor had seen Poppæa, is “ much enraged; but not knowing that this inter6 view was obtained through the treachery of Ani
cetus, is readily persuaded by him to see Agrip“ pina in secret, and acquaint her with his fears " that her son Nero would marry Poppæa. Agrip“pina 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 mo« ther's death, and, by Anicetus's means, to des
troy her by drowning: A solemn feast, in ho“ nour 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 inter
val, 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 “ there encourages and determines Nero to banish “ Otho, and finish the horrid deed he had attempt. “ ed on his mother. Anicetus undertakes to exe
cute 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 immi
nent fear, and irresolute how to conduct herself. “ The account of her death, and the Emperor's “ horror and fruitless remorse, finishes the dra
ACT I. SCENE I.
'TIS well, begone! your errand is perform'd:
[Speaks 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 retired 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 re
strain’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 hid it fire A thousand haughty hearts, unus'd to shake
When a boy frowns, nor to be lur'd with smiles
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.
'Tis like, thou hast forgot, when yet a stranger