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TRANSLATION

OF

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

lish verse.

THIRD in the labours of the disc came on,
With sturdy step and slow, Hippomedon ;
Artful and strong he poised the well known weight,
By Phlegyas warn’d, and fired by Mnestheus' fate,
That to avoid, and this to emulate.
His vigorous arm he tried before he flung,
Braced all his nerves, and every sinew strung,
Then, with a tempests whirl, and wary eye,
Pursued his cast, and hurld the orb on high;
The orb on high tenacious of its course,
True to the mighty arm that gave it force,
Far overleaps all bound, and joys to see
Its ancient lord secure of victory.

The theatre's green height and woody wall
Tremble ere it precipitates its fall;
The ponderous mass sinks in the cleaving ground,
While vales and woods and echoing hills rebound.
As when from Ætna's smoking summit broke,
The eyeless Cyclops heaved the craggy rock ;
Where Ocean frets beneath the dashing oar,
And parting surges round the vessel roar;
'Twas there he aim'd the meditated barm,
And scarce Ulysses scaped his giant arm.
A tiger's pride the victor bore away,
With native spots and artful labour gay,
A shining border round the margin rolld,
And calm’d the terrors of his claws in gold.

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Cambridge, May 8, 1736.

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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
which I have heard him say he saw it represented at Paris
seems to have led him to choose the death of Agrippina for
his first and only effort in the draina. The execution of it
also, as far as it goes, is so very much in Racine's taste,
that I saspect, if that great poet had been born an English-
man, he would have written precisely in the same style and
manner. However, as there is at present in this nation a
general prejudice against declamatory plays, I agree with
a learned friend, who perused the manuscript, that this
fragment will be little relished by the many ; yet the ad-
mirable strokes of nature and character with which it
.abounds, and the majesty of its diction, prevent me from
withholding from the few, who I expect will relish it, so
great a curiosity (to call it nothing more) as part of a tra-
gedy written by Mr. Gray. These persons well know, that
till style and sentiment be a little more regarded, mere
action and passion will never secure reputation to the author,
whatever they may do to the actor. It is the business of
the one,“ to strut and fret his hour upon the stage ;' and
if he frets and struts enough he is sure to find his reward,

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 :"

Mason.

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AGRIPPINA, the Empress-mother.
Nero, the Emperor.
POPPÆA, believed to be in love with OTHO.
OTHO, a young man of quality, in love with Poppga.
SENECA, the Emperor's Preceptor.
ANICETUS, Captain of the Guards.
DEMETRIUS, the Cynic, friend to SENECA.
ACERONIA, Confidant to AGRIPPINA.

SCENE, the Emperor's villa at Baiæ.

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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

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