Henry Baker

(1698-1774 / England)

Medulla Poetarum Romanorum - Vol. Ii. (Munificence - Neptune) - Poem by Henry Baker

See Hospitality. Rewards.

He, suppliant, in the royal Presence stands,
With Boughs of peaceful Olive in his Hands:
And begs the King some Town, or Field to give,
Where they may safe, his faithful Vassals live.
Beneficient, and with a pleasing Look,
In Answer, thus the Trachin Monarch spoke:
The Wretched to assist I ne'er disdain,
Nor over Realms unhospitable reign:
All you can wish I grant: Intreaties spare:
Whate'er you see, (and wou'd 'twere better!) share.--

When thus the friendly Prophet had foretold,
He sent rich Gifts of Elephant, and Gold:
Within our Navy's Sides large Treasures stow'd,
And brazen Cauldrons, that refulgent glow'd.
He sent with these, a glitt'ring Coat of Mail,
With many a golden Clasp, and golden Scale:
A radiant Helm, whose beauteous Summit bore
A waving Plume; the Helm that Pyrrhus wore.
My Father too with costly Gifts he loads,
And Sailors he supplies to stem the Floods,
And gen'rous Steeds, and Arms to all my Train,
With skilful Guides to lead us o'er the Main.--

Nor less Andromache, with sad Farewell,
Brings to Ascanius Robes all wrought in Gold
With various Colours, and a Phrygian Cloak:
Loads him with rich embroider'd Vestments, nought
Inferior in her Presents.--

Attending on their Way, the gen'rous Prince
Dismiss'd his Guests with rich Munificence;
In old Anchises' Hand a Scepter plac'd:
A Vest and Quiver young Ascanius grac'd:
His Sire, a Cup: which from th' Aonian Coast
Ismenian Thyrses sent his royal Host.
Nor less Expence the Trojan Gifts express'd:
A fuming Censer for the royal Priest;
A Chalice, and a Crown of princely Cost,
With ruddy Gold and sparkling Gems emboss'd.--

Nations Different.

In diff'rent Nations diff'rent Men we view,
That vary in their Shape, or in their Hue:
The Matter's common, and in all the same,
But private Stamps distinctly mark the Frame.
Large yellow Offspring are the German's Pride,
While neighb'ring France with Red is deeply dy'd.
Slim are the People that inhabit Spain,
The Muscles there a firmer Texture gain.
Th' Italians shew a sweet but manly Grace,
And temper'd Mars appears in ev'ry Face;
But active Greece produceth finer Parts,
Their Looks betray their Exercise and Arts.
Short curl'd up Hair the Sons of Syria grace:
And Blackness stains the Ethiopian's Face:
Less India blackens, less deforms the Mass,
There blended Colours make a tawny Face,
Whilst Egypt's slimy Plains affect the Sight
With brighter Colours, and approach to White.
Parch'd Lybia burns her Sons: the vilest Shapes
She shews, and scarce divides her Men from Apes:
While Mauritania doth disgust the Eye,
(Her Name bespeaks it,) with the blackest Dye.

Tho' Organs form'd alike each Speech employs,
What diff'rent Languages confound the Voice!
What diff'rent Virtues reign, what diff'rent Crimes?
Men's Manners are as various as the Climes.--

In cold laborious Climes the wintry North
Brings her undaunted hardy Warriors forth:
In Body and in Mind untaught to yield,
Stubborn of Soul, and steady in the Field.
But Asia's softer Climate, form'd to please,
Dissolves her Sons in Indolence and Ease.
Here silken Robes invest enervate Limbs,
And in long Trains the flowing Purple streams.

Where no rude Hills Sarmatia's Wilds restrain,
Nor rushing Tigris cuts the level Plain,
Swifter than Winds along the Champian born,
The Parthians fly with Ease, or fight, or turn,
And distant still the vain Pursuer scorn.
Not with like Ease they force their warlike Way,
Where rough unequal Grounds their Speed delay.
When--e'er the thicker Shades of Night arise,
Unaim'd their Shaft, and unavailing, flies:
Nor are they form'd with Constancy, to meet
Those Toils that make the panting Soldier sweat:
To climb the Heights, to stem the rapid Flood,
To make the dusty Noon--day Battle good,
Horrid in Wounds, and crusted o'er with Blood.
Nor Wars Machines they know, nor have the Skill
To shake the Rampire, or the Trench to fill:
Each Fence that can their winged Shafts endure,
Stands, like a Fort impregnable, secure.
Light are their Skirmishes, their War is Flight,
And still to wheel their wav'ring Troops delight.
To taint their coward Darts is all their Care,
And then to trust them to the flitting Air:
When e'er their Bows have spent the feather'd Store,
The mighty Business of their War is o'er.
No manly Strokes they try, nor Hand to Hand
With cleaving Sword in manly Combat stand.
With Swords the Valiant still their Foes invade;
These call in Drugs and Poisons to their Aid.--

Nature Content with Little.
See Mediocrity.

O wretched Man! in what a Mist of Life,
Inclos'd with Dangers, and with noisy Strife,
He spends his little Span! and over--feeds
His cram'd Desires with more than Nature needs!
For Nature wisely stints our Appetite,
And craves no more than undisturb'd Delight,
Which Minds unmixt with Cares and Fears obtain;
A Soul serene, a Body void of Pain.
So little this corporeal Frame requires,
So bounded are our natural Desires,
That wanting all, and setting Pain aside,
With bare Privation Sense is satisfy'd.--

Behold! Ye Sons of Luxury, behold!
Who scatter in Excess your lavish Gold:
You who the Wealth of frugal Ages waste,
T' indulge a wanton supercilious Taste:
For whom all Earth, all Ocean are explor'd,
To spread the various proud voluptuous Board:
Behold how little thrifty Nature craves!--

What--e'er can Nature's real Wants relieve,
Th' indulgent Gods with kind Profusion give.
The Olive freely yields its wild Repast,
And ev'ry Bry'r presents a rural Feast.
Mad must he be, who'd thirst beside a Stream,
Or freeze, while Phoebus gives his glowing Beam.
Around the nuptial Bed arm'd Laws appear:
Yet the chaste Bride indulges without Fear.
Each useful Blessing bounteous Heav'n bestows;
But Pride's insatiate Lust no Limits knows.--

But Heav'n is kind, with bounteous Hand it grants
A fit Supply for Nature's sober Wants:
She asks not much, yet Men press blindly on,
And heap up more, to be the more undone:
By Luxury they Rapine's Force maintain,
What that scrapes up, flows out in Luxury again:
And to be squander'd at a senseless Rate,
Seems now the only Use of an Estate.--

The best and wisest on a little live:
Nature to every one does kindly give
The Means of Happiness; did Man but know
T' enjoy the Blessings which she does bestow.
This useful Science did we understand,
Man's chief Concern would be to till the Land:
War would not rage, nor crashing Forests fall,
Storms wreck the Ship, nor Engines break the Wall.

See Pilot. Sailing.

Oak was his Heart, his Breast with Steel
Thrice mail'd, that first the brittle Keel
Committed to the murd'rous Deep:
Nor dreaded battling Winds, that sweep
The Flood, the Hyads stormy Train,
Nor the fierce South, of Adria's Main
The lawless Monarch, be his Will
T' enrage the gulfy Wave, or still.
All Fear of Death did he repel,
Who, fearless, saw the Billows swell:
Saw the fell Monsters floating by,
And Rocks, deaf to the Seaman's Cry!
Vain has Almighty Wisdom plac'd,
For Earth's fixt Borne, the watry Waste:
If impious Men the Art have found
T' o'erleap the inviolable Mound.--

Who in a Ship began to plow the Main,
And ruffled with rude Oars the watry Plain:
Tim'rous at first, the Sea's calm Billows try'd,
And row'd, securely, by the Shore's known Side.
Then, vent'ring on, thro' wide--stretch'd Bays he sails,
And spreads his Canvas to the gentle Gales:
At length, by often daring, bolder grown,
Scorning the Fears which he before had known,
The Deep he takes, Heav'n his sole Guide, and braves
Ægean Storms, and the Ionian Waves.--

From thence, e'er yet the Seaman's Art was taught,
Rude Argo thro' the Deep a Passage sought:
She first explor'd the distant foreign Land,
And shew'd her Strangers to the wond'ring Strand:
Then Nations Nations knew, in Leagues were join'd,
And universal Commerce mix'd Mankind.
By her made bold, the daring Race defy'd
The Winds tempestuous, and the swelling Tide:
Much she enlarg'd Destruction's ample Pow'r,
And open'd Ways to Death, unknown before.--

The Heav'n instructed Ship--man thus replies:
Of all yon Multitude of golden Stars,
Which the wide rounding Sphere incessant bears,
The cautious Mariner relies on none,
But keeps him to the constant Pole alone.--

--Strait the Master veer'd;--
The working Waves the Course inverted feel,
And dash, and foam, beneath the winding Keel:
Not with such Skill, on rapid Chariots born,
Around the Column skilful Racers turn:
While the near Wheels bear nicely on the Goal,
The farther, wide, in distant Circles roll.--

The cloudy Skies a gathering Storm presage,
And Auster from the South began to rage:
Full from the Land the sounding Tempest roars,
Repels the swelling Surge, and sweeps the Shores.
Spight of the Seaman's Toil the Storm prevails:
In vain with skilfull Strength he hands the Sails:
In vain the cordy Cables bind 'em fast,
At once it rips, and rends 'em from the Mast:
At once the Winds the flutt'ring Canvas tare,
Then whirl, and whisk it, thro' the sportive Air.
Some, timely for the rising Rage prepar'd,
Furl the loose Sheet, and lash it to the Yard:
In vain their Care: sudden the furious Blast
Snaps by the Board, and bears away the Mast:
Of Tackling, Sails, and Mast, at once bereft,
The Ship a naked helpless Hull is left.
But, happier some, a steady Course maintain,
Who stand far out, and keep the deeper Main:
Their Masts they cut, and driving with the Tide,
Safe o'er the Surge, beneath the Tempest ride.
In vain, did from the southern Coast, their Foe,
All black with Clouds, outragious Auster blow;
Lowly secure amidst the Waves they lay,
Old Ocean heav'd his Back, and roll'd 'em on their Way.--


Mean while the Noise and Tumult of the Main
Neptune perceives: the Bottom of the Deep
Turn'd upwards, and the Storm's licentious Rage.
Highly provok'd, and careful for his Realms,
Above the Waves, serene, he rears his Head:
He sees the Trojan Fleet o'er all the Sea
Dispers'd: Æneas, and his Ships o'erpow'r'd
With Surges, and the Ruin of the Sky.
East and West Winds he hails: and then proceeds:--
From your high Birth does this Presumption rise?
And dare You thus, without my Sov'reign Leave,
Mix Earth, and Heav'n, and such vast Billows raise?
Whom I:--But first 'tis fit we should compose
The troubled Ocean. For your next Offence
A more severe Correction you shall find.
Hence, fly: and bear this Message to your King:
To Me, not Him, the Empire of the Main,
And aweful Trident fell: Huge rocky Caves
Are his Dominions: Eurus, your Abodes:
Proud in that Palace Æolus may reign,
But bid him bar the Prison of his Winds.--

So spoke the God: and sooner than he spoke,
Appeas'd the tossing of the Waves, dispell'd
The Clouds collected, and restor'd the Sun.
Cymothoê too, and Triton join their Strength
To clear the Vessels from the pointed Rock:
Himself his Trident plies, to heave them off,
Levels the Banks of Sand, and calms the Sea,
And with light Wheels o'er the smooth Surface rides.--

-- Father Neptune
His wild Sea--Horses joins in Harness, adds
The foaming Bridles, and diffuses all
The flowing Reins: In his cerulean Car
Lightly He skims the Surface of the Deep:
The Waves subside: The swelling Sea lies smooth
Beneath the thund'ring Axle: And the Clouds
Fly from the vast Horizon. Various then
The Forms of his Retinue: Monstrous Whales,
Old Glaucus' Train, Palemon Ino's Son,
The nimble Tritons, and all Phorcus' Band:
Thetis, and Melite upon the Left,
Niseae, Spio, and Cymodoce,
Thalia, and the Virgin Panopea.--

Nor from his patrimonial Heav'n alone,
Is Jove content to pour his Vengeance down:
Aid from his Brother of the Sea, he craves,
To help him with auxiliary Waves.
Neptune the Rivers summons to his Court,
To whom, when there obedient they resort,
And with their swelling Streams his Palace fill,
He thus, in brief, declares his mighty Will.
Small Exhortation needs: your Pow'rs employ:
And this bad World, so Jove requires, destroy:
All Banks, all Lets, all Obstacles remove,
At large let all your Floods unbridled rove.
Thus charg'd, in haste, their Fountains all set free,
Headlong they roll, impetuous, to the Sea.
Then, with his Mace he struck: the trembling Earth,
Broke up her hidden Springs, and gave a Deluge Birth.
The Land and Sea seem'd diff'rent now no more,
For all was Sea, but Sea without a Shore.--

Calm grows the Sea, while Neptune lays his Mace
O'er the wide Surface of it's furrow'd Face:
Already Triton at his Call appears
Above the Waves: a purple Robe he wears,
And in his Hand a crooked Trumpet bears.
The Sov'reign bids him peaceful Sounds inspire,
And give the Waves the Signal to retire.
His writhen Shell he takes, whose narrow Vent
Grows by Degrees into a large Extent,
And gives it Breath: The Blast with doubling Sound,
Runs the wide Circuit of the World around:
From the Sun's Rising to it's Ev'ning Fall,
'Twas heard by ev'ry Wave, and was obey'd by All.—

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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 1, 2010

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