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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Quarrel with Fortune

By Benjamin Coleman (1673–1747)

[Born in Boston, Mass., 1673. Died there, 1747. The Life and Character of the Reverend Benjamin Colman, D.D. By E. Turell. 1749.]

  • [The Daughter with Mr. Colman used to range over the Manor in the Afternoons. She asked a poem from him: He told her it would lead into a Quarrel. She promised it should not on her Part. So the next Day he wrote one with this Title, “A Quarrel with Fortune:” Because (forsooth) he was not equal to her in Rank and Riches—In it was the following Simile.E. T.]

  • SO have I seen a little silly fly

    Upon a blazing taper dart and die.

    The foolish insect ravish’d with so bright

    And fair a glory, would devour the light.

    At first he wheels about the threatening fire,

    With a career as fleet as his desire:

    This ceremony past, he joins the same

    In hopes to be transform’d himself to flame.

    The fiery, circumambient sparkles glow,

    And vainly warn him of his overthrow,

    But resolute he’ll to destruction go.

    So mean-born mortals, such as I, aspire,

    And injure with unhallowed desire,

    The glory we ought only to admire.

    We little think of the intense fierce flame,

    That gold alone is proof against the same;

    And that such trash as we, like drossy lead,

    Consume before it, and it strikes us dead.