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support him.

creases his passion; tho', 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 thro' 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 Poppæa, gives Otho encouragement, and promises to

Anicetus secretly introduces Nero to, hear their dïscourse; who resolves immediately on his mother's death, and, by Anicetus's 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 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 attempted on his mother. Anicetus undertakes to 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.

I refer the reader to the 13th and 14th books of the

annals of Tacitus for the facts on which this story is founded : By turning to that author, he will easily see how far the poet thought it necessary to deviate from the truth of history. I shall only further observe, that as such a fable could not possibly admit of any good character, it is terror only and not pity that could be excited by this tragedy, had it been completed. Yet it was surely capable of exciting this passion in a supreme degree, if, what the critics tell us be true, that crimes, which illustrious persons commit, affect us from the very circumstance of their rank, because we unite with that our fears for the public weal.




IS 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 retired to Antium ; there to tend Her houshold 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 drop'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

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Without a spell to raise, and bid it fire
A thousand haughty hearts, unus'd to shake
When a boy frowns, nor to be lur'd with smiles
To taste of hollow kindness, or partake
His hospitable board: They are aware
Of th' unpledg’d bowl, they love not Aconite.

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.


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

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 bad 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.


Thro' 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,

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