Page images

Now every creature looks around for shelter ;
And whether man or beast, all move alike
Towards their homes, and happy they who have
A house to screen them from the piercing cold !
Lo! o'er the frost a reverend form advances,
His hair white as the snow on which he treads,
His forehead marked with many a care-worn

Whose feeble body, bending o'er a staff,
Shews still that once it was the seat of strength,
Though now it shakes like some old ruin'd tower.
Clothed, indeed, but not disgraced, with rags,
He still maintains that decent dignity
Which well becomes those who have served their

country. With tottering steps he gains the cottage door: The wife within, who hears his hollow cough, And pattering of his stick upon the threshold, Sends out her little boy to see who's there. The child looks up to mark the stranger's face, And seeing it enlighten'd with a smile, Holds out his tiny hand to lead him in. Round from her work the mother turns her hea I, And views them, not ill pleased. The stranger whines not with a piteous tale, But only asks a little to relieve A poor old soldier's wants. The gentle matron brings the ready chair, And bids him sit to rest his weary limbs,

And warm himself before her blazing fire.
The children, full of curiosity,
Flock round, and with their fingers in their

Stand staring at him; while the stranger, pleased,
Takes up the youngest urchin on his knee.
Proud of its seat, it wags its little feet,
And prates and laughs, and plays with his white

locks. But soon a change comes o'er the soldier's face; His thoughtful mind is turn'd on other days, When his own boys were wont to play around him, Who now lie distant from their native land, In honourable but untimely graves ; He feels how helpless and forlorn he is, And big round tears course down his wither'd

His toilsome daily labour at an end,
In comes the wearied master of the house,
And marks with satisfaction his old guest
In the chief seat, with all the children round him;
His honest heart is fill'd with manly kindness,

bids him stay and share their homely meal,
And take with them his quarters for the night.
The agèd wanderer thankfully accepts,
And by the simple hospitable board
Forgets the by-past hardships of the day.



BORN 1784.
DIED 1849.

Brace and the Spider .

Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, had hitherto (A.D. 1:306) been unsuccessful against the English, and was now residing di a poor dwelling at Rachrin, dis-spirited and reduced to the point of despair. A traditional story of the family of Bruce is, that whilst debating with himself whether he should give up his right to the Scottish crown or persevere, “ his eye was attracted by a spider, which, hanging at the end of a long thread of its own spinning, was endeavouring, as is the fashion of that creature, to swing itself from one beam in the roof to another, for the purpose of fixing the line on which it meant to stretch its web. The insect made the attempt again and again without success; and at length Bruce counted that it had tried to carry its point six times, and been as often unable to do so. It came into his head that he had himself fought just six battles against the English and their allies, and that the poor persevering spider was exactly in the same situation with himself, having made as many trials, and been as often disappointed in what it aimed at. Now,' thought Bruce, as I have no means of knowing what is best to be done, I will be guided by the luck which shall attend this spider. If the insect shall make another effort to fix its thread, and shall be successful, I will venture a seventh time to try my fortune in Scotland ; but if the spider shall fail, I will go to the wars in Palestine, and never return to my native country more.'

“While Bruce was forming this resolution, the spider made another exertion with all the force it could muster, and fairly succeeded in fastening its thread to the beam which it had so often in vain attempted to reach. Bruce, seeing the success of the spider, resolved to try his own fortune; and as he had never before gained a victory, 80 he never afterwards sustained any considerable or decisive check or defeat."--Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a Grandfather.

POR Scotland's and for freedom's right

The Bruce his part has played ;-
In five successive fields of fight

Been conquered and dismayed :

Once more against the English host
His band he led, and once more lost

The meed for which he fought;
And now from battle, faint and worn,
The homeless fugitive, forlorn,

A hut's lone shelter sought.

And cheerless was that resting-place

For him who claimed a throne; His canopy devoid of grace,

The rude, rough beams alone; The heather couch his only bedYet well I ween had slumber fled

From couch of eider down! Through darksome night till dawn of day, Absorbed in wakeful thought he lay,

Of Scotland and her crown.

The sun rose brightly, and its gleam

Fell on that hapless bed, And tinged with light each shapeless bea.

Which roofed the lowly shed;
When, looking up with wistful eye,
The Bruce beheld a spider try

His filmy thread to fling
From beam to beam of that rude cot-
And well the insect's toilşome lot

Taught Scotland's future king.


Six times the gossamery thread

The wary spider threw ;-
In vain the filmy line was sped,

For powerless or untrue
Each aim appeared, and back recoiled
The patient insect, six times foiled,

And yet unconquered still ;
And soon the Bruce, with eager eye,
Saw him prepare once more to try

His courage, strength, and skill.

One effort more, his seventh and last !

The hero hailed the sign ! And on the wished-for beam hung fast

That slender, siiken line! Slight as it was, his spirit caught The more than omen ; for his thought

The lesson well could trace, Which even “ he who runs may read,” That Perseverance gains its meed,

And Patience wins the race.

« PreviousContinue »