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English people did not know how to make glass then; and it was brought
; from foreign countries, when any was wanted for the windows of a church or for some other large and grand building. This glass was made chiefly from sand and the ashes of sea-weed. Who could have thought of making anything so clear and bright as glass out of sand and ashes ? Nobody, perhaps, would have thought of it; it was found out by accident.
A great many hundred years ago some merchants were driven on shore by a storm, not very far from the famous city of Sidon, and were obliged to light a fire on the sand to cook their food.
The sand there was very white and shining, and a kind of sea-weed, called kali, grew plentifully on the shore. Some of this sea-weed was burned to ashes in the fire; and the merchants were surprised to see that the ashes of the kali, mixed with the sand, which the heat of the fire had melted, had made a hard bright substance such as they had never seen before : this was glass.
When the men of Sidon heard of it, they tried to make some too, and by taking great pains they made much clearer and better glass than that which had been made by accident.
After a long while the men of other countries learned to make it; and about three hundred years ago English people began to make glass for themselves. Now, every little cottage in England has windows, which let in the daylight and keep out the rain and cold.
BRUCE AND THE SPIDER. THERE was a time when England and Scotland were not one nation, as they are at present. They had separate kings, and, being next-door neighbours, they were almost always quarrelling, and, as a necessary consequence, fighting.
Edward I. of England did his best to conquer Scotland, but failed, for the bravery and determination of the Scotch king, Robert Bruce, was irresistible.
The English king had powerful armies, and Bruce suffered many defeats, and underwent many hardships before he freed his country. At one time, after many disasters, being obliged to hide himself from his enemies, he took shelter in a poor hut. He was now in such distress that he almost despaired of success, and began to think of giving up his effort to save Scotland. One day, while he was doubting what he should do, Bruce happened to cast his eyes to the roof of the cabin where he lay: he there saw a spider hanging at the end of a long thread of its own spinning, and endeavouring to swing itself from one beam to another, in order to fix the line on which it meant to stretch its web. The insect made the attempt again and again without success, and Bruce noticed that it had tried to reach the beam six times, and been as often unable to do so.
It then came into his head that he had himself fought just six battles with the English, and had been six times defeated. “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 makes another attempt and is successful, I will continue the war; if it fails, I will leave my country, and never return to it again.”
While Bruce was forming this resolution, the spider made another trial with all its force, and succeeded in fastening its thread to the beam. Bruce resolved to persevere, and as he had never before gained a victory, he never afterwards sustained considerable defeat.