Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/422

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380
SUSAN FENIMORE COOPER.

ship. They are a very common insect with us, and on that account more annoying than any other that is found here. Some of them, with great black bodies, are of a formidable size. These haunt cellars, barns, and churches, and appear occasionally in inhabited rooms. There is a black spider of this kind, with a body said to be an inch long, and legs double that length, found in the Palace of Hampton Court, in England, which, it will be remembered, belonged to Cardinal Wolsey, and these great creatures are called “Cardinals” there, being considered by some people as peculiar to that building. A huge spider, by-the-bye, with her intricate web and snares, would form no bad emblem of a courtier and diplomatist, of the stamp of Cardinal Wolsey. He certainly took “hold with his hands, in kings’ palaces,” and did his share of mischief there.

Few people like spiders. No doubt these insects must have their merits and their uses, since none of God’s creatures are made in vain; all living things are endowed with instincts more or less admirable; but the spider’s plotting, creeping ways, and a sort of wicked expression about him, lead one to dislike him as a near neighbour. In a battle between a spider and a fly, one always sides with the fly, and yet of the two, the last is certainly the most troublesome insect to man. But the fly is frank and free in all his doings; he seeks his food openly, and he pursues his pastimes openly; suspicions of others or covert designs against them are quite unknown to him, and there is something almost confiding in the way in which he sails around you, when a single stroke of your hand might destroy him. The spider, on the contrary, lives by snares and plots; he is at the same time very designing and very suspicious, both cowardly and fierce; he always moves stealthily, as though among enemies, retreating before the least appearance of danger, solitary and morose, holding no communion with his fellows. His whole appearance corresponds with this character, and it is not surprising, therefore, that while the fly is more mischievous to us than the spider, we yet look upon the first with more favour than the last; for it is a natural impulse of the human heart to prefer that which is open and confiding to that which is