[Page [23]]



The writer of this poem wishes first to consider adverse situations in that point of view, wherein they are productive of invention, the mistress of all the mechanic powers; and in the second place to point out how far the heart may be improved, and the understanding enlarged, by a patient submission to those trials which it may be our lot to experience.

1 TO thee the fatal Urn
Two Urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood,
The source of evil one, and one of good.
Iliad, Book 24.
was given,
2 Dispenser of the wrath of heaven,
3 Sad treasurer of human woe!
4 Sparing the dire contents bestow,
5 Nor suddenly thy terrors pour,
6 O'erwhelming in th' unguarded hour.
[Page 24]
7 'Till of thy clouded gifts we learn,
8 Th' intrinsic value to discern:
9 Our joy from sorrow to procure,
10 And rise from ardent trials pure.
11 Where pleasure with her festive train,
12 Had shone with bright but transient reign,
13 By sad reverse was quickly seen,
14 A matron of a sordid mien.
15 For sofas soft with velvet spread,
16 Her seats were on the broken reed;
17 For pearls which golden robes adorn,
18 For gems which bid the gazer turn,
19 Her mournful garments now display,
20 The veil which shades the absent day.
21 For melting sounds, 'twas joy to hear,
22 When dying on the list'ning ear,
23 Harsh discords still to her belong,
24 And hoarse the raven screams his song.
25 Where myrtle's fragrance did exhale,
26 And roses more perfum'd the gale.
27 The drooping willow there she view'd,
28 And life-destroying upas
Where seas of glass in gay reflection smile,
Round the green coasts of Java's happy isle;
Soft zephyrs blow, eternal summers reign,
And showers prolific bless the soil in vain!
Fierce in dread silence on the blasted heath,
Fell upas sits, the hydra tree of death.
[Page 25]
29 To sum the whole of earthly grace,
30 Where shone the mind illumin'd face,
31 And as the animating soul,
32 Gave vital vigour to the whole.
33 Her looks for fear alone were made,
34 And horror in deep furrows laid,
35 Where gay amusements used to cheer,
36 Her's were to human thought severe.
37 Nor costly viands suit her need,
38 On human tears compell'd to feed.
39 A fatal change her presence wrought,
40 And gardens into desarts brought.
41 The pumice stone oft mark'd her road,
42 And verdure faded where she trod.
43 Full many a child this matron bore,
44 And train'd them to her rugged lore,
45 Ruthless her bosom could forego,
46 The tenderness that mothers show,
47 Tho' wayward tempers should misuse,
48 The fond caress they best can use.
49 By terrors only skill'd to rule,
50 Remorseless was her rigid school.
51 And yet, beneath her rugged care,
52 Arose a train of daughters fair,
53 For heaven their souls she well refin'd,
54 Or sent them forth to bless mankind.
[Page 26]
55 'Twas soon her joy, if joy e'er came,
56 To train her first to deeds of fame.
57 Teach her aspiring eye to soar,
58 And give her arm unequall'd power;
59 And by the woes she made her feel,
60 Remov'd each dread of other ill.
61 Her massy weapons high she'd wield,
62 And teach how hardest rocks must yield:
63 They bear the print of many a wound,
64 And distant far her strokes resound,
65 Their strokes so deep, to echo tell,
66 Who trembling! counts them in her cell.
67 And thus she said, and sternly frown'd,
68 Resistless I am ever found,
69 Heir of my fortune! yield to fate,
70 I shall instruct thee to be great,
71 Unaw'd by threats, unchang'd by woes.
72 Superior still the damsel rose,
73 Aiming her parent to delight,
74 She robed herself in purest white.
75 All vain her fury to disarm,
76 For what can rugged natures charm:
77 And soon to urge her daughter's fate,
78 She led her thro' her gloomy state.
79 Her barren desarts first she show'd,
80 From these she said receive thy food.
81 Vainly were her intreaties made,
82 To guard her there her mother staid,
[Page 27]
83 She turn'd her piercing eye around,
84 To view th' inhospitable ground.
85 Yet in extremity of woe,
86 Despair she still disdain'd to know.
87 At length, to meet her searching eyes,
88 A bended wand, well pleas'd she spies,
89 She seized it with presaging smile,
90 And oft she turn'd the barren soil;
91 Which as she turn'd, all fair to view,
92 A nymph her quick attention drew;
93 The golden sheaves which harvest spread,
94 Composed a garland for her head.
95 She in her hand a basket bore,
96 With many a plant, and seed, and flow'r,
97 And as a cheering look she throws,
98 A tree all fresh and blooming rose,
99 And its gay branches to entwine,
100 Luxuriant wound the curling vine.
101 This crown she said, by Ceres wrought,
102 To thee undaunted maid I've brought.
103 Vertumnus and Pomona join,
104 To hail thee too, with gifts divine.
105 Nature shall at thy touch revive,
106 And Flora's beauteous offspring live.
107 Thee I attend, aspiring maid,
108 To strew these gifts where thou shalt lead.
109 And soon a fresher verdure rose,
110 And soon the golden harvest glows;
[Page 28]
111 Thro' fertile vallies rivers glide,
112 And foliage cloaths the mountain's side,
113 Sweet herbage decks the fragrant field,
114 And orchards all their treasures yield.
115 Tho' in her own created ground,
116 No gentler was her mother found;
117 Think not she said to rest thee here,
118 Thy glory must be purchased dear,
119 Then cleave for me that rugged oak,
120 And learn to move yon solid rock;
121 Prepare thee for this wond'rous deed,
122 By me compell'd, thou must succeed.
123 Full oft she views her task severe,
124 With anxious thought, attentive care.
125 In silence bids her active mind,
126 Assistance for her trials find.
127 And many a thought repulsed again,
128 By many an effort weak and vain;
129 Could not subdue th' aspiring aim,
130 To add these glories to her name;
131 Till half refin'd from earthly mold,
132 Her mind illumin'd, could behold
133 The pow'r who with the gifts of gods,
134 Descends to comfort man's abodes.
135 Slow she trod the earth she bless'd,
136 Her silver locks a circle press'd;
[Page 29]
137 As she majestic took her way,
138 These words she said, or seem'd to say:
139 As light of day and midnight oil,
140 Witness'd thy unremitting toil,
141 To thy extended mind is giv'n
142 The choicest blessings under heav'n;
143 Reward of many an anxious hour,
144 Receive these gifts, and try their pow'r,
145 Now cleave the oak and raise the rock,
146 And earth's deep storehouses unlock.
147 The damsel saw with eager eyes,
148 Their wonder working power she tries.
149 To shew her deeds, the time would fail,
150 Volumes could scarcely tell the tale;
151 How all the treasures earth had stor'd,
152 She for the use of man explor'd,
153 And suiting to his wants applied,
154 And o'er the ocean was his guide;
155 Thro' her the weak the strong restrain,
156 And to their use the mighty train;
157 As mistress of each useful art,
158 She rose endear'd to ev'ry heart;
159 Nor here her mother seal'd her worth,
160 But more accomplish'd sent her forth,
161 And to the useful, taught to join
162 All that could polish and refine,
163 Delight the eye, enchant the ear,
164 And steal the spirit from its care.
[Page 30]
165 Thus from a rigid parent soars,
166 A daughter whom the world adores,
167 Counting the trials she has foil'd,
168 All hate the mother, love the child.
[Page [31]]


1 ADVERSITY! if e'er thy dart,
2 With poignant sting has touch'd my heart,
3 If, sick'ning to my mortal taste,
4 Thy cup to me has ever past;
5 Oh may thy wounds with soundness heal,
6 Thy bitter draughts with vigour fill;
7 That so unblamed I now may trace,
8 The brightest daughter of thy race;
9 Thy second lovely to be seen,
10 Of tend'rest heart and mildest mein,
11 With each engaging grace her own,
12 Ne'er charm'd away her mother's frown.
13 Who ever, strange as it appears,
14 Seem'd most delighted with her tears;
[Page 32]
15 Yet skill'd to torture, joy she show'd,
16 And mock'd her with delusive good.
17 Of me severe, the offspring mild,
18 Hear me, she said, obedient child;
19 All fair to view, from me receive,
20 The portion I deceitful give;
21 Smiling malignant as she rose,
22 There if thou can'st, she said, repose.
23 Then on with sullen step she leads,
24 The path her child obedient treads;
25 Possess, she said, by my command,
26 Fit scenes for a correcting hand,
27 Whose prospect now delights thine eyes,
28 The fairy land of promises;
29 Where my gay sister keeps her court,
30 Where all the willing world resort,
31 To taste the bounties of her store,
32 Which few enjoy but all adore.
33 Her dangerous gifts let VIRTUE fear,
34 And still remember I am near.
35 New charms still nearer views display'd,
36 As onward goes the artless-maid;
37 Each flatt'ring scene subdued its part,
38 And shared the feelings of her heart,
39 And now the form appear'd in view,
40 Whose charms surrounding vot'ries drew.
[Page 33]
41 With brilliance dress'd, with fragrance crown'd,
42 And hands that spread her favours round.
43 As from an urn, all to delight,
44 She drew her treasures infinite.
45 Whate'er employ'd a mortal care,
46 All that inspir'd a hope was there.
47 Health's vital vigour nerv'd the strong,
48 Pleasure's soft charms allur'd the young,
49 She honour's purple robe bequeaths,
50 And blind ambition's random wreathes;
51 Grandeur to vacant pride affords,
52 And fills the grasping miser's hoards:
53 She pomgranates and myrtles joins,
54 And loves perennial bands entwines;
55 Beauty was there the world to charm,
56 And wit that could the wise disarm:
57 And gratitude, and perfum'd praise,
58 That gifts enhance, and merits raise.
59 She flatt'ry's honey'd poison draws,
60 To swell the vain, with false applause.
61 She friendship's purest flame could light,
62 And there the vine and elm unite.
63 The urn, the nymph with transport views,
64 And meekly to the goddess sues:
65 Pity she said my state forlorn,
66 To hatred of my parent born;
[Page 34]
67 Me rescue from a doom so hard,
68 And from that parent be my guard.
69 A languid look the goddess gave,
70 Again she pleads her pow'r to save,
71 While prostrate she that pow'r ador'd,
72 She humbly thus her gifts implor'd.
73 I pour not here my humble pray'r,
74 For joy which takes no tint of care;
75 For more myself to know,
76 Goddess, perhaps thy gifts bestow'd,
77 To me were the securer good,
78 Chasten'd by shades of woe.
79 Yet smooth my rugged parent's frown,
80 Her thorns, oh may thy roses crown;
81 Thy light, her shades among,
82 With vernal hope rise ever new,
83 While timid fear of changing hue,
84 Warns my approach to wrong.
85 Bestow thine aromatic wreathe,
86 While here the vital air I breathe,
87 With health my temples bind,
88 If there should mix some faded leaves,
89 For transient pain my bosom grieves,
90 Shall joy be more refin'd.
[Page 35]
91 Now meek contentment's olives bring,
92 Let cheerfulness her rubies fling,
93 Upon my sighing breast.
94 With syren song, and transient rose,
95 By giddy youth be pleasure chose,
96 Repented when possest.
97 May blind ambition's random crown,
98 Be on disorder'd passion thrown,
99 Which aims some airy height,
100 But honour's purple robe bestow,
101 Whose guiltless smile, and open brow,
102 Shall more than fame delight.
103 Of gold I ask no mighty store,
104 I shrink from fortune's dangerous pow'r,
105 Yet oh, that share impart;
106 Which leaves a little to bestow,
107 To ease some want of sighing woe,
108 Raise, not corrupt my heart.
109 The passion and the tender care,
110 While wealth and beauty amply share,
111 Be mine the safer helm;
112 Of friendship at whose hallowed shrine,
113 Oh goddess! now for me entwine
114 The vine around the elm.
[Page 36]
115 Sincerity, of heart so pure,
116 With confidence that rests secure,
117 And faith's unbroken seal;
118 Solicitude so swift to serve,
119 With constancy that cannot swerve,
120 Her presence shall reveal.
121 Her pray'r to hear the goddess seems,
122 And smiles her into golden dreams,
123 And health's fresh rose and balmy wreathes,
124 The goddess freely now bequeathes.
125 But soon her mother touch'd the crown,
126 All its salubrious sweets are flown:
127 Hemlock and deadly nightshade now,
128 Compose a garland for her brow;
129 And ev'ry boon the goddess gives,
130 Her mother blasts as she receives.
131 And now she frown'd upon her view,
132 Nor more the nymph could joy pursue.
133 No more, she said, my sister seek,
134 In gifts revers'd 'tis I who speak,
135 Now tainting health's salubrious gale,
136 I bring disease, and thou art pale;
137 But ask thy heart, and it shall tell,
138 What blessings may with sickness dwell;
139 It early calms all anxious strife,
140 For the frail vanities of life;
[Page 37]
141 The brittle tenure of thy days,
142 It marks, and wisdom guides thy ways.
143 Another's pain to thee reveals,
144 And all thy soften'd bosom feels.
145 I wave with scorn the peacock's plumes,
146 And honour's purple robe consumes,
147 From slander's tongue, and pride's parade,
148 Receive a grace which cannot fade;
149 Slander and scorn themselves deceive,
150 Then nobly pity and forgive;
151 Thine innocence thy breast shall calm,
152 And crown thee with thy native palm;
153 I by injustice turn the scales,
154 And thy expected treasure fails;
155 But inward turn and there explore,
156 Resources unperceiv'd before,
157 What prosp'rous days awhile conceal'd,
158 Adversity has oft reveal'd;
159 As stars, obscured by dazzling light,
160 Adorn the sable brow of night;
161 For gratitude so rich in store
162 To make the benefactors poor;
163 I overpow'ring ivy bring,
164 And the embosom'd adder's sting.
165 If what thy bounty could impart
166 Flow'd from the feelings of thy heart,
167 The joys thy kind intentions earn,
168 Arise above a base return;
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169 For praise which merit might enhance,
170 I bring thee envy's bas'lisk glance;
171 And for the concord of the heart,
172 Point enmity's keen forked dart;
173 The dying fern and choaking reed,
174 To love's perennial bands succeed.
175 The vine shall bind the elm no more,
176 Nor friend protect, nor love adore.
177 These bitter dregs, now drain my bowl,
178 And purify thy spotless soul.
179 Of me severe, the offspring mild,
180 I give the world my darling child,
181 Above all theory of speech,
182 To live the lessons others teach;
183 Her presence solitude shall cheer,
184 And ev'ry public bliss endear;
185 With equal fortitude shall own,
186 A martyr's, or a monarch's crown.
187 Tho' many were the numbers more,
188 Of children whom this matron bore,
189 Than these among the shining race,
190 None more exalted could we trace;
191 Their hearts to soften, minds enlarge,
192 Was her severe and fav'rite charge.


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About this text

Title (in Source Edition): THE FAMILY OF ADVERSITY.
Author: Eliza Day
Genres: philosophic poetry

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Daye, Eliza, b. ca. 1734. Poems, on Various Subjects. Liverpool: Printed by J. M'Creery, 1798, pp. [23]-38. [2],x,[4],258p.; 8° (ESTC T132359) (Page images digitized by University of California Libraries.)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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