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Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - Vol. I. (Absence - Advice) - Poem by Henry Baker


Neglected, now, behold my Tresses flow:
Nor sparkling Diamonds on my Fingers glow.
All plain, and cheap, the humble Weeds I wear:
No Golden Ornament adorns my Hair:
My Locks, no longer now, perfum'd diffuse
The fragrant Odours of Arabian Dews.
Why should I dress, or practice Arts like these?
He's gone whom only 'twas my Wish to please!--

I view the Grots, rough--arch'd, whose mould'ring Stone,
Fair, once, to me as polish'd Marble shone.
The Grove I view, beneath whose friendly Shade,
We oft have found a soft delightful Bed:
But Him, the lovely Lord of Them and Me,
Nor in the Grottoes, nor the Grove I see.
What then avails the now detested Place!
To Him alone it ow'd it's ev'ry Grace.
The with'ring Grass informs me where we lay,
And the press'd Plants our mutual Weight betray:
There, down I lye, where thy dear Print I view;
But first my plenteous Tears the Turf bedew.
The Trees with falling Leaves Thee gone deplore,
And Birds sweet--warbling charm the Ear no more.--

More bitter than the hateful Poyson--Plant
Sardinia yields, may I be thought by Thee:
More rough than Gorse, more vile than with'ring Weeds
Which by the Tides are cast upon the Shore:
Thus base, thus odious, let thy Swain appear,
If this Day seems not longer than a Year.--

Here Junipers, and prickly Chesnuts grow,
Beneath each Tree it's Apples strew the Ground,
And ev'ry Scene with Satisfaction smiles:
But from these Hills should fair Alexis fly,
You'd find our Rivers leave their Channels dry.--

Scorch'd are the Fields: with Thirst the Herbage dies:
Bacchus the Hills his viny Shade denies:
But when my Phillis comes to bless the Plain,
The wither'd Groves shall all be green again,
And Jove descend in plenteous Show'rs of Rain,--

When, in its Turn, the Moon obscure withdraws
It's Light, and setting Stars perswade to Sleep,
Lonely she pines within the empty Court:
Lies on the Couch which just before he left:
Him absent, absent still she hears and sees.--

The Rock, the Wheel, and ev'ry little Toy,
Which did the Virgin's sportful Hours employ,
In her lost Daughter's stead she fondly press'd
Close in her Lap, and hugg'd them to her Breast:
Explor'd her empty Bed, and ev'ry Place
Which her Child us'd did the sad Mother trace.--

Thus anxious is the Bird, whose unfledg'd Young,
On some low Ash's slender Twigs are hung,
While to fetch Food she roams: her careful Breast
Is by a thousand diff'rent Fears possess'd:
Lest the rude Wind should shake them from the Tree,
Or prying Man the hidden Nest should see,
Or cruel Serpents seize the tender Prey,
And bear the helpless little Ones away.--


--If Helenus has any Skill,
If any Faith, and if Apollo right
Inspires his Prophet: One thing, Goddess--born,
One Thing, above the rest, I will advise,
And oft repeat it: with religious Pray'r
First Juno's Deity adore: to her
Pay willing Sacrifices, and with Vows,
Suppliant, o'erpow'r the mighty Queen of Heav'n.--


< br>The Goddess then a Matron's Form put on;
With silver Hairs her hoary Temples shone:
Prop'd by a Staff, she hobbles in her Walk,
And, tott'ring, thus begins her old Wife's Talk.


Young Maid, attend, nor stubbornly despise
The kind Instructions of the Old and Wise:
For Age, tho' scorn'd, a ripe Experience bears,
That golden Fruit, unknown to blooming Years.
Still may remotest Fame thy Labours crown,
And all Mankind thy Skill in Weaving own:
But to the Goddess yield, and humbly meek,
A Pardon for thy bold Presumption seek:
The Goddess will forgive.--

--At this the Maid,
With Passion fir'd, her gliding Shuttle staid:
And scarce refraining Blows, with such a Look
As high Resentment shew'd,--
To Pallas in Disguise thus fiercely spoke.


Thou doating Thing, whose idle babling Tongue,
But too well shews the Plague of living long;
Hence, and reprove with this your sage Advice,
Your giddy Daughter, or your awkard Neice:
Know, I despise your Counsel, and am still
A Woman, ever wedded to my Will.--

Now to advise you, since you want Advice:
Take heed of whom you speak, and what it is
Take heed to whom: avoid the busy Man:
Fly the Inquisitive; He'll talk again,
And tell what you have said: The leaky Ear
Can never hold what it shall chance to hear,
But out it runs: What Words you once let fall,
For ever gone, no Mortal can recall.
Praise none till well approv'd on sober Thoughts,
Lest afterwards you blush for Other's Faults:
But if you have commended, thro' Mistake,
A worthless Rascal, no Excuses make
On his Behalf, but give him up to Shame:
Yet manfully defend another's Fame,
If long Acquaintance has approv'd him true:
For the same Malice soon may slander you.
When your next Neighbour's House is all a Flame,
If you neglect it, your's will be the same.

Be never with that curious Itch possess'd,
Of tearing Secrets from Another's Breast:
But when imparting Friendship makes 'em thine,
Revere, and guard them, as a sacred Shrine,
By Frowns not frighted, nor betray'd by Wine.
Delights to which thy private Fancy bends,
Esteem, with due Submission to thy Friend's:
Nor when he calls to hunt, the Sport refuse,
And stay at Home to trifle with the Muse.

Read learned Authors, study well the Wise,
And ponder all the Methods they advise,
To make thy Days in pleasing Quiet roll;
Lest carking Avarice disturb thy Soul,
Or Terrors shake, or Cares thy Mind abuse,
Or anxious Hope for Things of little Use.
Consider whether Virtue be produc'd
By Education, or from Heav'n infus'd:
What lessens Care: what makes a Man to be
His own best Friend: whence pure Tranquility
Results, from Honour, or from shining Wealth,
Or from a private Life, led as it were by Stealth.--

Advice to a Prince.

Dear Youth, if Fortune on the Parthian Throne
Had fix'd thy Lot: if from the great Arsaces
Descended lineally, and much rever'd
Far thro' the distant East, the bright Tiara
Shone round thy Brows; then might thy princely Rank
And high Extraction render Thee secure,
Tho' wantoning in slothful Luxury.

But diff'rent much the Case of those that wield
The Roman Scepter: Virtue, here, not Blood,
Must fix thy Fame: when exercis'd by Power
'Tis then most great, most useful to Mankind.

Tho' thy wide stretch'd Dominions should extend
To India's utmost Bounds, tho' down to Thee
The Mede, the Arab, and the Persian bow,
If thy Desires are wicked, if by Fear
Or Anger Thou art sway'd, Thou'rt but a Slave;
And in thy Breast shalt feel the Tyrant's Pow'r.
Then only art Thou fit to wield the Scepter,
When Thou canst rule Thyself. Vice still proceeds
From bad to worse: Licentiousness leads on
To Luxury, and that to lawless Lust.
Most difficult the Task to practice Chastity,
When the hot Blood boils high; and Anger, then,
But ill advises, when Revenge is near.
Thou, the first Sallies in thy Bosom quell,
Nor e'er be thy Concern what 'tis Thou canst,
But what Thou ought'st to do: and the Regard
Of what is just, let always rule thy Will.

But this I o'er and o'er again advise,
That Thou remember Providence has plac'd Thee
In the full Point of Light; where all Thou do'st
By every Nation round Thee is observ'd.
The Faults of Princes ne'er can be conceal'd:
The Splendor of their elevated Rank
Permits not ought they do to be unknown:
Fame enters their most hidden Privacy,
And searches all the secret Windings out.

Be gentle and benevolent to all:
We may in every Excellence beside
By Others be outdone, but Clemency
Exalts and makes us equal to the Gods.

Act not a double Part, nor, false Thyself,
Give Ear to Rumours; for who--e'er does so,
Shall be affrighted at each idle Noise,
And, never, never know an Hour's Peace.
Whom Men at Arms and glittering Spears surround,
Is much less safe than he that Love defends:
But Love can ne'er be forc'd:--This, mutual Trust,
This, kind and gracious Acts alone, procure.

Whom all his People fear, himself much more
Must be afraid: a Fate for Tyrants fit.
Let such with Envy persecute all those
Whom Fame speaks well of, and destroy the Brave.
With Swords and Poisons let them live encompass'd,
Immur'd in Tow'rs, and trembling while they threat.
But Thou a Citizen, a Father be;
The general Good consulting, not thine own,
Still, still prefer the Public to Thyself.

If Thou wouldst have thine Edicts well observ'd,
Obey them first Thyself: the People, then,
With Readiness comply, when the Law--maker,
Himself, they find, observant of the Laws.
Example in a King is all in all:
The Statues of the Realm, serve less to form
His Subjects Manners, than the Life he leads:
For still the changeful Vulgar ape their Prince.—

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