Henry Baker Poems >>
Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - VOL. II. (Philosophy - Place)

Philosophy.

Happy the Man, who, studying Nature's Laws,
Thro' known Effects can trace the secret Cause:
Who, without Fear, his certain Fate can meet,
And trample Death itself beneath his Feet.--

'Tis pleasant, when the Seas are rough to stand,
And view another's Danger, safe at Land:
Not 'cause he's troubl'd, but 'tis sweet to see
Those Cares and Fears from which Ourselves are free.
'Tis also pleasant, to behold, from far,
Armies engage: secure Ourselves from War.--

But much more sweet, thy lab'ring Steps to guide
To Virtue's Heights, with Wisdom well supply'd,
And all the Magazines of Learning fortify'd:
From thence to look below on Humankind,
Bewilder'd in the Maze of Life, and blind:
To see vain Fools ambitiously contend,
For Wit and Pow'r; their last Endeavours bend
T' outshine each other, waste their Time and Health
In search of Honour, and pursuit of Wealth.--

--As Children are surpriz'd with Dread,
And tremble in the dark: so riper Years,
Ev'n in broad Day--light, are possess'd with Fears,
And shake at Shadows: fanciful and vain
As those which in the Breast of Children reign.
These Bugbears of the Mind, this inward Hell,
No Rays of outward Sunshine can dispell:
But Nature and right Reason must display
Their Beams abroad, and bring the darksome Soul to Day.--

Oh! if the foolish Race of Man, who find
A Weight of Cares, still pressing on their Mind:
Could find as well the Cause of their Unrest,
And all this Burden lodg'd within the Breast,
Sure they would change their Course: not live as now,
Uncertain what to wish, or what to vow:

Uneasy both in Country, and in Town,
They search a Place to lay their Burden down:
One restless in his Palace walks abroad,
And vainly thinks to leave behind the Load:
But straight returns: for he's as restless there,
And finds there's no Relief in open Air.
Another to his Villa would retire,
And spurs as hard as if it were on Fire:
No sooner enter'd at his Country--Door,
But he begins to yawn, and stretch, and snore;
Or seeks the City, which he left before.

Thus ev'ry Man o'er--works his weary Will,
To shun himself, and to shake off his Ill;
The shaking Fit returns, and hangs upon him still:
No Prospect of Repose, nor Hope of Ease:
The Wretch is ignorant of his Disease;
Which known would all his guiltless Trouble spare,
For he would know the World not worth his Care:
Then would he search more deeply for the Cause,
And study Nature well, and Nature's Laws.--

Doth creeping Avarice thy Mind engage?
Or doth it boil with fiery Lust and Rage?
Why there are Rules and Precepts that can ease
Thy Pain, and cure great part of thy Disease.
Or art Thou vain?--Books yield a certain Spell,
To stop thy Tumour: thou shalt cease to swell,
When thou hast read them thrice, and studied well.
The Man that's envious, or to Anger prone,
Slothful, or drunk, in Love, or all in one:
There's none so void of Reason, none so wild,
As not to be reclaim'd, and render'd mild,
If he consults true Wisdom's Rules with Care,
And to Instruction lends a patient Ear.--

Thrice happy They, who first, with Souls refin'd,
To these Pursuits their gen'rous Care confin'd:
Who, nobly spurning Earth's impure Abodes,
Essay'd to climb the Mansions of the Gods.
Such Minds sublime, Intemp'rance never broke;
Such ne'er submitted to Love's shameful Yoke;
Such fled the Wrangling of the noisy Bar,
The hideous Din of Arms, and painful Toils of War.
Foes to Ambition and her idle Lure,
From thirst of Fame, from thirst of Gold, secure:
Such Souls, examining the distant Skies,
Unveil'd it's hidden Lights to mortal Eyes.
Let huge Olympus lofty Ossa bear:
Let Pelion tow'r on Ossa high in Air:
Mountains on Mountains short of Heav'n must rise;
This only Ladder reaches to the Skies.--


Physician and Patient.

Thus a sick Man to his Physician said:
Methinks I am not right in ev'ry Part:
I feel a kind of trembling at my Heart:
My Pulse unequal, and my Breath is strong,
Besides a filthy Fur upon my Tongue.

The Doctor heard him, exercis'd his Skill:
And, after, bid him for four Days be still.
Three Days he took good Counsel, and began
To mend, and look like a recov'ring Man:
The fourth, he could not hold from drink, but sends
His Boy to one of his old trusty Friends:
Adjuring him, by all the Pow'rs divine,
To pity his Distress, who could not dine
Without a Flaggon of his healing Wine.
He drinks a swilling Draught, and lin'd within,
Will supple in the Bath his outward Skin.
Whom should he find but his Physician there,
Who, wisely, bad him once again, beware.
Sir, you look wan: you hardly draw your Breath:
Drinking is dang'rous, and the Bath is Death.
'Tis Nothing, says the Fool:--But, says the Friend,
This Nothing, Sir, will bring You to your End.
Do I not see your Dropsy--Belly swell?
Your yellow Skin?--No more of that, I'm well.
One of your Tribe I've bury'd, Sir, and He
Talk'd just as You do now:--
And, Doctor, I may live to bury Thee.
Thou tell'st me, I look ill: and Thou look'st worse.
I 'ave done, says the Physician;--take your Course.
The laughing Sot, like all unthinking Men,
Bathes and gets drunk: then bathes and drinks again.
His Throat half throtled with corrupted Phlegm,
And breathing thro' his Jaws a belching Steam,
Amidst his Cups with shiv'ring Faintness seiz'd,
His Limbs disjoynted, and all o'er diseas'd,
His Hand refuses to sustain the Bowl,
And his Teeth chatter, and his Eyeballs roll,
Till, with his Meat, he vomits out his Soul.--

Diseases in a thousand Forms are rang'd:
As Tempers alter, Med'cines must be chang'd.
The cutting Steel some Bodies must endure,
A simple Drug on many works a Cure.--


Piety.

Chief of the Skies, Celestial Piety!
Whose Godhead, priz'd by those of heav'nly Birth,
Revisits rare these tainted Realms of Earth:
Mild, in thy milk--white Vest, to sooth my Friend,
With holy Fillets on thy Brows descend:
Such as of old (e'er chac'd by Guilt and Rage)
A Race unpolish'd, and a golden Age,
Beheld Thee frequent. Once more come below:
Mix in the sad Solemnities of Woe:
See, see, thy own Hetruscus wastes the Day
In pious Grief, and wipe his Tears away.--


Pigmalion and the Statue.

Long time Pigmalion led a single Life:
Women were so bad he durst not take a Wife:
But hating Idleness, the Source of Ill,
In curious Sculpture exercis'd his Skill:
And carv'd a Maid of Ivory, fo fair,
That Nature could not with his Art compare.

With Admiration struck Pigmalion stands,
And doats on Beauties made by his own Hands.
The Statue wore a real Virgin's Face,
And seeming Life did ev'ry Feature grace:
It cou'd have mov'd, (one would have thought,) but strove
With Modesty, and was asham'd to move.
Art hid with Art, so well perform'd the Cheat,
It caught the Carver with his own Deceit.
Pleas'd with Surprize his Eyes her Charms explore,
And still, the more he looks, he loves the more.
With curious Hand he feels it oft, to try
If Flesh it be, or only Ivory:
Nor that 'tis Iv'ry can himself perswade,
But courts and clasps it like a living Maid:
Kisses, and thinks that she returns the Kiss,
Grasps, and believes her Fingers twin'd in his.
But when he strain'd her hard, he was afraid
His Hands had made a Dint, and bruis'd his Maid.

With Flatt'ry now her Mind he seeks to move,
And now with Gifts, the pow'rful Bribes of Love:
Her Closet first he furnishes, and fills
The crowded Shelves with Rarities of Shells:
And orient Pearls, which from the Conchs he drew,
And all the sparkling Stones of various Hue:
And Parrots imitating human Tongue,
And singing Birds in silver Cages hung:
And ev'ry beauteous Flow'r, and fragrant Green,
And painted Toys, and Amber, shone between.
Rich fashionable Robes her Person deck,
Pendants her Ears, and Pearls adorn her Neck:
Her taper Fingers glitt'ring Diamonds grac'd,
And an embroider'd Zone surrounds her slender Waste:
But tho' with all this Cost and Trouble drest,
Lovely she look'd; she look'd when naked best.

Along he lays her on a stately Bed,
With Cov'rings of Sidonian Purple spread:
Calls her his Bride, and, as of Sense possess'd,
Soft Pillows places for her Head to rest.

The Feast of Venus came: a solemn Day,
To which the Cypriots due Devotion pay:
With gilded Horns the Milk--white Heifers led,
Slaughter'd before the sacred Altars bled:
And Clouds of Incense o'er the Altar spread.

Pigmalion too with Gifts approach'd the Shrine,
And trembling thus implor'd the Pow'rs divine:
Almighty Gods! if all we Mortals want,
If all we can require, be yours to grant,
Make this fair Statue mine, he would have said,
But chang'd his Words for shame: and only pray'd,
Give me a Wife just like my Iv'ry Maid!

The Golden Goddess present at the Pray'r,
Well knew he meant th' inanimated Fair;
And gave the Sign of granting his Desire,
For thrice in chearful Flames ascends the Fire.
To his dear Image home again he hies,
And on the Bed close to her Bosom lies:
His Lips to her's he press'd; the Virgin's Kiss
To him seem'd warm, and oft he prov'd the Bliss.
Transported more, no longer now he stays,
But his fond Hand on her hard Bosom lays:
Hard tho' it was, beginning to relent,
The Iv'ry Breast beneath his Fingers bent:
The pleasing Task he fails not to renew,
Soft, and more soft, at ev'ry Touch it grew:
Like pliant Wax, when working Hands reduce
The Mass to Form, and make it fit for Use.
Amaz'd, he would believe, but still in Pain,
He fondly wanders o'er her once again:
And feels the soft'ning Flesh inform'd with Heat,
And in each Vein the leaping Pulses beat.

Convinc'd, o'erjoy'd, his study'd Thanks and Praise,
To her who made the Miracle he pays:
His Lips to her's he joins, which seem to melt,
For now the Virgin his warm Kisses felt:
And as she, blushing, ope's her beauteous Eyes,
At once her Lover, and the Light she spies.
The Goddess bless'd the Marriage she had made:
And when nine Crescents had at full display'd,
Their joining Horns, repleat with borrow'd Flame,
She Paphos bore: who gave that Isle a Name.--


Pilot.
See Navigation.

Scarce half the Hours of silent Night were fled,
When careful Palinure forsakes his Bed:
And ev'ry Breath explores that stirs the Seas,
And watchful listens to the passing Breeze:
Observes the Course of ev'ry Orb on high,
That moves in silent Pomp along the Sky:
Arcturus, dreadful with his stormy Star,
The watry Hyads, and the northern Car:
In the blew Vault his piercing Eyes behold,
The huge Orion flame in Arms of Gold.
When all serene he saw th' Etherial Plain,
He gave the Signal to the slumb'ring Train:
Our Tents we strike: the Canvas We display,
And wing with spreading Sails the watry Way.--

Now, on the full extended Main, the Land
No more appear'd: but all was Sea, and Sky:
A dusky Cloud hung gather'd o'er his Head,
Bringing on Night, and Storm: upon the Waves
Lay horrid Darkness: from the lofty Deck
The Pilot's self, ev'n Palinurus, cries,
What Clouds, alas! invelop all the Heav'ns?
Or what, great Neptune! does thy Will intend?
This said, he gives command to furl their Sails,
And strongly ply their Oars: Then turns oblique
His Canvas to the Wind, and Thus proceeds:
Magnanimous