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WOMAN'S CURIOSITY.

Mrs. Hannah MORE.

66

A WORTHY Squire of sober life,
Had a conceited boasting wife;
Of him she daily made complaint,
Herself she thought a very saint.
She lov'd to load mankind with blame,
And on their errors build her fame.
Her favourite subject of dispute
Was Eve and the forbidden fruit.
“Had I been Eve," she often cried,

Man had not fall'n, nor woman died.
I still had kept the orders given,
Nor for an apple lost my heaven;
To gratify my curious mind
I ne'er had ruin'd all mankind;
Nor from a vain desire to know,
Entail'd on all my race such woe.”
The Squire replied “ I fear 'tis true,
The same ill spirit lives in you;
Tempted alike, I dare believe,
You would have disobey'd like Eve.”
The lady storm'd and still denied
Both curiosity and pride.

The Squire some future day at dinner
Resolved to try this boastful sinner;
He griev'd such vanity possess'd her,
And thus in serious terms address'd her:
“Madam, the usual splendid feast
With which our wedding-day is grac'd
With

you I must not share to-day,
For business summons me away.
Of all the dainties I've prepared,
I beg not any may be spar'd:
Indulge in every costly dish;
Enjoy, 'tis what I really wish:

Only observe one prohibition,
Nor think it a severe condition :
On one small dish, which cover'd stands,
You must not dare to lay your hands;
Go-disobey not on your life,
Or henceforth you're no more my wife.”

The treat was serv'd, the Squire was gone,
The murm’ring lady din'd alone;
She saw whate'er could grace a feast,
Or charm the eye, or please the taste;
But while she rang'd from this to that,
From ven'son haunch to turtle fat:
On one small dish she chanc'd to light,
By a deep cover hid from sight:
“Oh! here it is—yet not for me!
I must not taste, nay, dare not see:
Why place it there? or why forbid
That I so much as lift the lid ?
Prohibited of this to eat,
I care not for the sumptuous treat ;
I wonder if 'tis fowl or fish,
To know what's there I merely wish.
I'll look_0 no, I lose for ever,
If I'm betray'd, my husband's favour.
I own I think it vastly hard,
Nay, tyranny to he debarr'd.
John, you may go—the wine's decanted,
I'll ring or call you when you're wanted.”
Now left alone, she waits no longer,
Temptation presses more and stronger.
“I'll peep-the harm can ne'er be much,
For tho' I peep I will not touch;
Why I'm forbid to lift this cover
One glance will tell, and then 'tis over.
My husband's absent, so is John,
My peeping never can be known.”
Trembling, she yielded to her wish,
And rais'd the cover from the dish;

She starts—for lo! an open pie,
From which six living sparrows fly.
She calls, she screams with wild surprise, .
“Haste, John, and catch these birds,” she cries;
John hears not, but to crown her shame,
In at her call her husband came.
Sternly he frown'd, as thus he spoke:
“Thus is your vow'd allegiance broke !
Self-ign’rance led you to believe
You did not share the sin of Eve.
Like hers, how blest was your condition !
How small my gentle prohibition !
Yet you, tho' fed with every dainty,
Sat pining in the midst of plenty;
This dish, thus singled from the rest,
Of
your

obedience was the test;
Your mind, unbroke by self-denial,
Could not sustain this slender trial.
Humility from hence be taught,
Learn candour to another's fault;
Go, know, like Eve, from this sad dinner,
You're both a vain and curious sinner."

THE SAGACITY OF THE SPIDER.

OLIVER GOLDSMITH.

Of all the solitary insects I have ever remarked, the spider is the most sagacious, and its actions, to me, who have attentively considered them, seem almost to exceed belief. This insect is formed by nature for a state of war, not only upon other insects, but upon each other. For this state, nature seems perfectly well to have formed it. Its head and breast are covered with a strong natural coat of mail, which is impenetrable to the attempts of every other insect, and its belly is enveloped in a soft pliant skin, which eludes the sting even of a wasp. Its legs are terminated by strong claws, not unlike those of the lobster; and their vast length, like spears, serves to keep every assailant at a distance.

Not worse furnished for observation than for an attack or defence, it has several eyes, large, transparent, and covered with a horny substance, which, however, does not impede its vision. Besides this, it is furnished with a forceps above the mouth, which serves to kill or secure the prey already caught in its claws or its net.

Such are the implements of war with which the body is immediately furnished; but its net to entangle the enemy seems to be what it chiefly trusts to, and what it takes most pains to render as complete as possible. Nature has furnished the body of this little creature with a glutinous liquid, which, proceeding from the lower extremity of the body, it spins into a thread, coarser or finer as it chooses to contract its sphincter. In order to fix its threads when it begins to weave, it emits a small drop of its liquid against the wall, which hardening by degrees, serves to hold the thread very firmly. Then receding from the first point, as it recedes the thread lengthens; and when the spider has come to the place where the other end of the thread should be fixed, gathering up with its claws the thread, which would otherwise be too slack, it is stretched tightly, and fixed in the same manner to the wall as before.

In this manner it spins and fixes several threads parallel to each other, which, so to speak, serve as the warp to the intended web.

To form the woof, it spins in the same manner its thread, transversely fixing one end to the first thread that was spun, and which is always the strongest of the whole web, and the other to the wall. All these threads being newly spun, are glutinous, and therefore stick to each other, wherever they happen to touch ; and in those parts of the web most exposed to be torn, our natural artist strengthens them, by doubling the thread sometimes sixfold.

Thus far, naturalists have gone in the description of this animal: what follows is the result of my own observation upon that species of the insect called the house spider. I perceived, about four years ago, a large spider in one corner of my room, making its web, and though the maid frequently levelled her fatal broom against the labours of the little animal, I had the good fortune then to prevent its destruction, and I may say, it more than paid me by the entertainment it afforded.

In three days the web was with incredible diligence completed; nor could I avoid thinking that the insect seemed to exult in its new abode. It frequently traversed it round, and examined the strength of every part of it, retired into its hole, and came out very frequently. The first enemy, however, it had to encounter, was another and a much larger spider, which having no web of its own, and having probably exhausted all its stock in former labours of this kind, came to invade the property of its neighbour. Soon, then, a terrible encounter ensued, in which the invader seemed to have the victory, and the laborious spider was obliged to take refuge in its hole. Upon this I perceived the victor using every art to draw the enemy from its stronghold. He seemed to go off, but quickly returned, and when he found all arts vain, began to demolish the new web without mercy. This brought on another battle, and, contrary to my expectations, the laborious spider became conqueror, and fairly killed his antagonist.

Now, then, in peaceable possession of what was justly its own, it waited three days with the utmost impatience, repairing the breaches of its web, and taking no sustenance that I could perceive. At last, however, a large blue fly fell into the snare, and struggled hard to get loose. The spider gave it leave to entangle itself as much as possible, but it seemed to be too strong for the cobweb. I must own I was greatly surprised when I saw the spider immediately sally out, and in less than a minute weave a net round its captive, by which the

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