Imatges de pÓgina
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MISCELLANEOUS PROSE.

I.

THE SPIDER AND THE BEE (1).

1. UPON the highest corner of a large window there dwelt a certain spider, swollen up to the first magnitude by the destruction of infinite numbers of flies whose spoils lay scattered before the gates of his palace, like human bones before the cave of some giant. The avenues to his castle were guarded with turnpikes and palisadoes, all after the modern way of fortification. After you had passed several courts you came to the centre, wherein you might behold the constable himself in his own lodgings, which had windows fronting to each avenue, and ports to sally out upon all occasions of prey or defence.

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2. In this mansion he had for some time dwelt in peace and plenty, without danger to his person by swallows from above, or to his palace by brooms from below: when it was the pleasure of fortune to conduct thither a wandering bee, to whose curiosity a broken pane in the glass had discovered itself, and in he went; where, expatiating awhile, he at last happened

* The numbers in the text refer to the notes in Appendix I. The small asterisks indicate that the words so marked are to be found in the vocabulary, Appendix III.

B

to alight upon one of the outward walls of the spider's citadel; which, yielding to the unequal weight, sunk down to the very foundation. Thrice he endeavoured to force his passage, and thrice the centre shook.

3. The spider within, feeling the terrible convulsion,* supposed at first that nature was approaching to her final dissolution: or else, that Beelzebub,1 with all his legions, was come to revenge the death of many thousands of his subjects whom his enemy had slain and devoured. However, he at length valiantly resolved to issue forth and meet his fate.

4. Meanwhile the bce had acquitted himself of his toils, and, posted securely at some distance, was employed in cleansing his wings, and disengaging them from the rugged remnants of the cobweb. By this time the spider was adventured out, when, beholding the chasms, the ruins and dilapidations of his fortress, he was very near at his wit's end; he stormed and swore like a madman, and swelled till he was ready to burst.

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5. At length, casting his eye upon the bee, and wisely gathering causes from events (for they knew each other by sight), "A plague split you," said he, "for a giddy puppy; is it you, with a vengeance, that have made this litter here? could you not look before you? do you think I have nothing else to do but to mend and repair after you ?"-" Good words, friend," said the bee (having now pruned himself, and being disposed to be droll): "I'll give you my hand and word to come near your kennel no more; I was never in such a pickle since I was born."-"Sirrah," replied the spider, "if it were not for breaking an old custom in our family, never to stir abroad against an enemy, I should come and teach you better manners."—"I pray have

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