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A PASSAGE FROM STATIUS.
THEB. LIB. VI. VER. 704–724.
This translation, which Gray sent to West, consisted of about
a hundred and ten lines. Mr. Mason selected twenty-seven lines, which he published, as Gray's first attempt in Eng
THIRD in the labours of the disc came on,
The theatre's green height and woody wall
Cambridge, May 8, 1736.
FRAGMENT OF A TRAGEDY,
DESIGNED BY MR. GRAY,
ON THE SUBJECT OF
THE DEATH OF AGRIPPINA.
'The Britannicus of Mr. Racine, I know, was one of Mr.
Gray's most favourite plays; and the admirable manner in
in the plaudit of an upper gallery; bat the other ought to have some regard to the cooler judgment of the closet : for I will be bold to say, that if Shakspeare himself had not written a multitude of passages which please there as much as they do on the stage, bis reputation would not stand so universally high as it does at present. Many of these passages, to the shame of our theatrical taste, are omitted constantly in the representation : but I say not this from conviction that the mode of writing, which Mr. Gray parsued, is the best for dramatic purposes. I think myself, what I have asserted elsewhere, that a medium between the French and English taste would be preferable to either; and yet this medium, if hit with the greatest nicety, would fail of success on our theatre, and that for a very obvious reason. Actors (I speak of the troop collectively) must all learn to speak as well as act, in order to
do justice to such a drama. “ But let me hasten to give the reader what little insight I
can into Mr. Gray's plan, as I find and select it from two detached papers. The Title and dramatis personæ are as follow :"
edica erabili eatest
AGRIPPINA, the Empress-mother.
SCENE, the Emperor's villa at Baiæ.
The argument drawn out by him, in these two papers, unde the idea of a plot and under-plot, I shall here upite : as will tend to show that the action itself was possessed
sufficient unity. “The drama opens with the indignation of Agrippina, at r
ceiving her son's orders from Anicetus to remove fro Baiæ, and to have her guard taken from her. At this tin Otho having conveyed Poppæa from the house of her hu band Rufus Crispinus, brings her to Baiæ, where he mea to conceal her among the crowd; or, if his fraud is di covered, to have recourse to the Emperor's authority; bu knowing the lawless temper of Nero, he determines not have recourse to that expedient but on the utmost necessi