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Its head grew steady-again it went,
And travelled a half-yard higher ; 'Twas a delicate thread it had to tread,
And a road where its feet would tire.
But again it quickly mounted ;
Nine brave attempts were counted. “ Sure,” cried the king, “that foolish thing
Will strive no more to climb;
And tumbles every time.”
Ah me! 'tis an anxious minute ;
Oh, say, will he lose or win it?
Higher and higher he got ; And a bold little run, at the very last pinch,
Put him into his native cot. “ Bravo, bravo !” the king cried out,
“ All honour to those who try ; The spider up there defied despair ;
He conquered, and why shouldn't I ?” And Bruce of Scotland braced his mind,
And gossips tell the tale, That he tried once more, as he tried before,
And that time did not fail. Pay good heed, all ye who read,
And beware of saying “I can't”; 'Tis a cowardly word, and apt to lead
To idleness, folly, and want.
Of doing some goodly thing;
And remember the Spider and King.
i Con, think.
1 Modena, a city in the north of Italy.
2 Reggio Gate, the gate from which runs the road to Reggio, a town not far from Modena.
3 Orsini, an illustrious Italian family. 4 Prithee, I pray thee. 5 Emerald, a precious stone of a green colour. 6 Alabaster, a kind of marble. 7 Coronet, a small crown. 8 Sire, father.
Her pranks the favourite theme of every tongue.
1 Theme, subject. 2 Venice, a city in the north-east of Italy. 3 Quest, search. 4 Tenantless, without tenants or inhabitants. 5 Lurking, hiding. 6 Nuptial ring, wedding ring.
Within that chest had she concealed herself,
MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS .-H. G. Bell.—1814–1874.
footstep falls ; And o'er the antique 4 dial-stone the creeping shadow
passed, And, all around, the noon-day sun a drowsy radiance cast. No sound of busy life was heard, save from the cloister 5
dim The tinkling of the silver bell, or the sisters' holy hymn. And there five noble maidens 6 sat beneath the orchard
trees, In that first budding spring of youth when all its prospects
please ; And little recked ? they, when they sang, or knelt at vesper
prayers, That Scotland knew no prouder names-held none more
dear than theirs ;And little ev'n the loveliest thought, before the holy
shrine, Of royal blood and high descent from the ancient Stuart
1 Ambush, a hiding-place.
2 Mary, Queen of Scots, the daughter of James V., king of Scotland ; succeeded her father when only eight years old, in 1542.
3 Stately convent, a priory on the island of Inchmahome, in the lake of Monteith (Perthshire), whither Mary was sent, when about three years old, for safety.
4 Antique, old-fashioned. 5 Cloister, a monastery or nunnery.
6 Five noble maidens, Mary Carmichael, Mary Hamilton, Mary Seton, Mary Beaton, and Mary the Queen. 7 Recked, cared. Vesper prayers, evening prayers.
Calmly her happy days flew on, uncounted in their flight, And as they flew, they left behind a long-continuing light.
The scene was changed. It was the court, the gay court
of Bourbon, And 'neath a thousand silver lamps a thousand courtiers
throng : And proudly kindles Henry's 2 eye-well pleased, I ween, The land assemble all its wealth of grace and chivalry :Grey Montmorency,4 o'er whose head has passed a storm Strong in himself and children, stands the first among his
peers ; And next the Guises, 4 who so well fame's steepest heights
assailed, And walked ambition's diamond ridge, where bravest
hearts have failedAnd higher yet their path shall be, stronger shall
their might, For before them Montmorency's star shall pale its waning
light. Here Louis, Prince of Condé,4 wears his all-unconquered
sword, With great Coligni 4 by his side : each name a household
word. And there walks she of Medicis, that proud Italian line, The mother of a race of kings—the haughty Catherine. The forms that follow in her train a glorious sunshine
makeA milky way of stars that grace a coinet's glittering wake; But fairer far than all the rest who bask on Fortune's tide, Effulgent 6 in the light of youth, is she, the new-made
1 Court of Bourbon, court of France.
2 Henry, Henry II., King of France, to whose son (Francis) Mary was betrothed before she left Scotland. I ween, I know.
4 Montmorency, Guises, etc., celebrated French nobles and princes.
5 She of Medicis, the celebrated Catherine de Medici, descendant of a wealthy and powerful Italian family, and Queen of France.
6 Effulgent, bright, splendid.