Henry Baker Poems >>
Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - VOL. II. (Patience - Perjury)
--Where--e'er the Fates
Call, or recall Us, let Us follow still:
Whate'er it be, all Fortune is subdu'd
Evils, for which we no Redress can find,
Patience makes less afflictive to the Mind.--
With Patience suffer. What You now endure,
In time to come may Happiness ensure:
By bitter Draughts the Sick oft find a Cure.--
Patience delights with Evils to contend.
Misfortunes that are grievous to support,
Are in Remembrance sweet.--
Let's curb our Passions, nor too much complain:
Grief should be check'd, and it becomes a Man
To let it rise no higher than his Pain.--
No Stings of private Hate his Peace molest,
Nor partial Favour grew upon his Breast:
But safe from Prejudice he kept his Mind,
Free, and at Leisure to lament Mankind.
There were the stricter Manners of the Man,
And this the stubborn Course in which they ran:
The golden Mean, unchanging, to pursue:
Constant to keep the purpos'd End in view:
Religiously to follow Nature's Laws,
And die, with Pleasure, in his Country's Cause:
To think he was not for himself design'd,
But born to be of Use to all Mankind.
To him 'twas Feasting, Hunger to repress:
And home--spun Garments were his costly Dress.
No marble Pillars rear'd his Roof on high,
'Twas warm, and kept him from the Winter Sky:
He sought no End of Marriage, but Increase:
Nor wish'd a Pleasure, but his Country's Peace:
That took up all the tend'rest Parts of Life,
His Country was his Children and his Wife.
From Justice' righteous Rules he never swerv'd,
But rigidly his Honesty preserv'd:
On universal Good his Thoughts were bent,
Nor knew what Gain, or Self--affection meant:
And while his Benefits the Publick share,
Cato was always last in Cato's Care.--
His helpless Country like an Orphan left,
Friendless and poor, of all Support bereft,
He took and cherish'd with a Father's Care,
He comforted, he bad her not to fear,
And taught her feeble Hands once more the Trade of War.
Nor Lust of Empire did his Courage sway,
Nor Hate, nor proud Repugnance to obey:
Passions and private Int'rest he forgot:
Nor for himself, but Liberty he fought.--
Shall next succeed, and War no more be heard:
Then Faith, and Vesta, and Quirinus, joyn'd
With Remus, shall give Laws: strong massy Bars,
And Bolts of solid Iron, fast shall close
War's dreadful Portals: impious Rage within
Sitting on horrid Armour, and behind
Bound with an hundred brazen Knots, shall roar
With bloody Mouth, and foaming bite his Chains.--
She first, white Peace, the Earth with Plough--shares broke,
And bent the Oxen to the crooked Yoke:
First rear'd the Vine, and hoarded first with Care
The Father's Vintage for his drunken Heir.--
Peace plies the Prong, and brights the shining Share;
Let eating Rust destroy the Tools of War.--
Come, fost'ring Peace, to Us, and kindly bear
In thy fair Hand the Harvest's golden Ear:
And from thy Lap with lavish Plenty pour
Ripe Apples, and the Garden's bounteous Store.--
Peace is the greatest Good Mankind can know:
Peace, Peace alone, outweighs a thousand Triumphs:
Peace, the dear Blessing of Security,
To all impartial, gives.--
By the fair Name of Peace we are betray'd.--
None deep in Mines would dig the brazen Ore,
Mark out the Trench, or raise the lofty Tow'r;
Ne'er would the Steed in Armour seek the Plain,
Or Fleets encounter on th' unstable Main,
If Liberty could well be chang'd for Peace.--
Oh see at length! with Pity, Caesar, see
These with'ring Arms, these Hairs grown white for Thee.
In painful Wars our joyless Days have pass'd,
Let weary Age lie down in Peace at last:
Give Us, on Beds, our dying Limbs to lay,
And sigh, at home, our parting Souls away:
Let our poor Babes, and weeping Wives be by,
To close our drooping Eye--lids when we die.
Be merciful, and let Disease afford
Some other Way to die, beside the Sword:
Let us no more a common Carnage burn,
But each be laid in his own decent Urn.--
The Maid Armipotent, that dreadful Pow'r,
Who drives th' embattl'd Host, and shakes the solid Tow'r,
Laid by her Spear, and all her War--attire,
Now mildly mixes with the softer Quire:
The Horror of her Helm, the Warrior's Pride,
Wreaths of fair Roses innocently hide:
She shines with peaceful Decorations dress'd,
And Flow'rs nod harmless from her lofty Crest.--
See Country Life.
O! more than fortunate, did they but know
Their Happiness, the Country--Village Swains!
For whom, at distance from discordant Arms,
The Earth, just Parent, pours forth easy Food.
What, tho' with them no Palace, rais'd to Heav'n,
From it's proud Portals vomits out a Tide
Of Morning--Visitants? Nor do they gape
For Luxury of Buildings: Pillars grac'd
With Spoils of Tortoises, in various Hue:
For 'broider'd Garments, and Corinthian Brass?
Tho' their white Wool imbibes no Syrian Teint:
Yet safe Repose, Sincerity of Life,
Riches of various Kinds, large Farms, and Ease,
Lowing of Herds, and Grots, and living Lakes,
Cool Vallies, and sweet Sleep beneath the Shades,
They want not.--Lawns are there, and Haunts of Beasts;
Youth patient of Fatigue, and train'd to live
On Little: Rites divine, and holy Sires:--
When Justice left the World, she left them last.--
Blest too is He, who knows the rural Gods,
Pan, old Sylvanus, and their Sister Nymphs!
Him nor the Fasces of the State can move,
Nor regal Purple: nor the Hate which reigns
'Twixt faithless Brothers: nor the Dacian Pow'rs,
Descending from the Danube leagu'd in Arms:
Nor Rome's Affairs, nor Kingdoms doom'd to fall:
The Poor his Pity moves not, nor the Rich
His Envy. Whate'er Fruits the Trees, and Fields,
Spontaneous, and without Compulsion give,
He gathers: nor e'er sees the Iron Laws,
The publick Registers, or noisy Bar.--
The Farmer with the crooked Plow upturns
The Glebe: from hence his annual Labour: hence
His Children, and his Country He sustains,
His lowing Herds, and well--deserving Steers.
No Pause, but still with Fruit the Year abounds:
With Apples, or th' Increase of Ewes and Kine,
Or with full Sheaves of Corn, the Gift of Ceres:
He loads the Furrows, and o'erpow'rs the Barns.
Winter comes on: the Presses bruise the Fruit
Of Sicyonian Olives: Fat with Mast
The Swine return: the Woods their Berries yield:
Autumn it's various Product too resigns:
And Summer on high Rocks the Vintage swells.
Mean--while their tender Parents Kisses round
Hang the sweet Babes: the Family all chaste,
Virtue and spotless Modesty preserves.
The Kine their Dugs with Milk distended bring:
And the fat sportive Kids in Pastures green
Frisk on the Turf, and push with butting Horns.--
The Country Peasant meditates no Harm,
When clad with Skins of Beasts to keep him warm,
In Winter Weather, unconcern'd he goes
Almost Knee--deep thro' Mire, in clumsy Shoes:
Vice dwells in Palaces, is richly drest,
There glows in Scarlet, and the Tyrian Vest.--
Stretch'd on the Turf in Sylvan Shades,
No Fear the Peasant's Rest invades:
While gilded Roofs, and Beds of State,
Perplex the Slumbers of the Great.
Secure, he rears the beachen Bowl,
With steady Hand, and fearless Soul.
Pleas'd with his plain and homely Meats,
No Swords surround him as He eats.
His modest Wife, of Virtue try'd,
Knows not th' expensive Arts of Pride:
Her Neck no circling Jewels wears,
No Pearls depending load her Ears:
No Silks she boasts from India brought,
Rich by the painting Needle wrought:
Nor proud, allures each wanton Eye,
In Stuffs of double Tyrian Dye.
Her easy Wish, the home--spun Fleece,
Plain in it's native Hue, can please:
And, happy in her nuptial Bed,
No jealous Doubts disturb her Head:
Unlike the Dame, whose Day of Birth,
Is solemniz'd thro' half the Earth.--
See Golden Age.
Men did, as yet, no use of Fire know,
To dress their Food; nor round their Bodies throw
The Skins of Beasts for Cloths: but, then confin'd,
In Woods and Caves they liv'd,--
To save them from the stormy Rains and Wind.
No fixt Society, no steddy Laws,
No publick Good was known, no common Cause:
But every one laid hold on what he cou'd,
By Nature taught to seek his private Good.--
Then, strong and swift, they did the Beasts pursue,
And many, arm'd with Stones and Clubs, they slew:
But to their Caves from some they cautiously withdrew.
When Night came on, wrapt round with Boughs they lay,
Upon the Ground like Hogs, and rough as they.--
After, when Cots were built, and Fire began,
And Skins of Beasts afforded Cloths for Man:
When one to one confin'd, in chaste Embrace
Enjoy'd sweet, Love, and saw a num'rous Race,
Then Men grew soft: the Temper of his Mind
Was chang'd from rough to mild, from fierce to kind.
Then Neighbours, by Degrees familiar grown,
Made Leagues and Bonds, and each secur'd his own.
This made them Laws enact, and led their Choice
To Rulers: Power was giv'n by public Voice:
For Men, worn out, and tir'd by constant Strife,
Began at last to wish a quiet Life:
And so submitted, of their own accord,
To rigid Laws, and their elected Lord.--
Kings then began to build them Towns and Forts,
Wherein to live secure, and keep their Courts:
'Mongst all they shar'd the Cattle and the Ground,
And round each Portion mark'd the steady Bound.
Each his Allotment had, as seem'd most fit,
According to his Beauty, Strength, or Wit:
For Beauty, then, and Strength were most esteem'd.
Before that Time Life was an artless State,
Of Reason void, and thoughtless in Debate:
Nature lay hid in deepest Night below:
None knew her Wonders, and none car'd to know.
Men Upwards look'd, they saw the circling Light,
Pleas'd with the Fires, and wonder'd at the Sight:
The Sun, when Night came on, withdrawn, they griev'd,
As dead: and joy'd next Morn, when he reviv'd.
But why the Nights grew long, or short, the Day
Was chang'd, and Shadows varied with the Ray,
Shorter at his Approach, and longer grown
At his Remove, the Causes were unknown.
Arts were not then found out, the desart Plains
Were unmanur'd, nor fed the idle Swains:
Ev'n Gold in Hills lay hid, then none resign'd
Their Lives to Seas, or Wishes to the Wind:
Confin'd their Search, they knew themselves alone,
And thought that only worthy to be known.--
How ready now is every Wretch to swear:
How fearless to affront the conscious Gods,
If so from Man he may his Guilt conceal!
Observe, how clear his Voice, when he denies:
How steady! how like Innocence his Look!
By the bright Sun! he swears, by Jove's red Bolts!
By Mars his Lance! and by Apollo's Shafts!
By the sharp Arrows of the Huntress--Maid,
And by her Quiver! by thy mighty Trident,
Neptune, great Father of the vast
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