Bruce (The), an epic poem by John Barbour (1376). There was published an edition in 1869. It is in octo-syllabic verse, and runs to about 14,000 lines. The subject is the adventures of Robert I. of Scotland.

Bruce and the Spider. The popular tradition is that in the spring of 1305, Robert Bruce was crowned at Scone king of Scotland; but, being attacked by the English, he retreated first to the wilds of Athole, and then to the little island of Rathlin, off the north coast of Ireland, and all supposed him to be dead. While lying perdu in Rathlin, he one day noticed a spider near his bed try six times to fix its web on a beam in the ceiling. “Now shall this spider (said Bruce) teach me what I am to do, for I also have failed six times.” The spider made a seventh effort, and succeeded; whereupon Bruce left the island (in the spring of 1307), and collecting together 300 followers, landed at Carrick, and at midnight surprised the English garrison in Turnberry Castle; he next overthrew the earl of Gloucester, and in two years made himself master of well-nigh all Scotland, which Edward III. declared in 1328 to be an independent kingdom. Sir Walter Scott tells us, in his Tales of a Grandfather (p. 26, col. 2), that in remembrance of this incident, it has always been deemed a foul crime in Scotland for any of the name of Bruce to injure a spider.

“I will grant you, my father, that this valiant burgess of Perth is one of the best-hearted men that draws breath…He would be as loth in wantonness, to kill a spider, as if he were a kinsman to king Robert of happy memory.”—Sir W. Scott: Fair Maid of Perth, ch. ii. (1828).

Frederick the Great and the Spider. While Frederick II. was at Sans Souci, he one day went into his ante-room, as usual, to drink a cup of chocolate, but set his cup down to fetch his handkerchief from his bedroom. On his return he found a great spider had fallen from the ceiling into his cup. He called for fresh chocolate, and next moment heard the report of a pistol. The cook had been suborned to poison the chocolate, and, supposing his treachery had been found out, shot himself. On the ceiling of the room in Sans Souci a spider has been painted (according to tradition) in remembrance of this story.

Mahomet and the Spider. When Mahomet fled from Mecca, he hid in a certain cave, and the Koreishites were close upon him. Suddenly an acacia in full leaf sprang up at the mouth of the cave, a wood-pigeon had its nest in the branches, and a spider had woven its net between the tree and the cave. When the Koreishites saw this, they felt persuaded that no one could have recently passed that way, and went on.

A kindred story is told of David, who was saved from the hand of Saul in pursuit of him, by the web of a spider over the mouth of a cave in the desert of Ziph.

Bruel, the name of the goose, in the tale of Reynard the Fox. The word means the “Little roarer” (1498).

Bruin, the name of the bear, in the best-epic called Reynard the Fox. Hence a bear in general. The word means the “Brown one” (1498).

Bruin, one of the leaders arrayed against Hudibras. He is meant for one Talgol, a Newgate butcher, who obtained a captain’s commission for valour at Naseby. He marched next to Orsin [Joshua Gosling, landlord of the beargardens at Southwark].—S. Butler: Hudibras, i. 3 (1663).

Bruin (Mrs. and Mr.), daughter and son-in-law to sir Jacob Jollup. Mr. Bruin is a huge bear of a fellow, and rules his wife with scant courtesy.—Foote: The Mayor of Garratt (1763).

Brulgruddery (Dennis), landlord of the Red Cow, on Muckslush Heath. He calls himself “an Irish gintleman bred and born.” He was “brought up to the church,” i.e. to be a church beadle, but lost his place for snoring at sermon-time. He is a sot, with a very kind heart, and is honest in great matters, although in business he will palm off an old cock for a young capon.

Mrs. Brulgruddery, wife of Dennis, and widow of Mr. Skinnygauge, former landlord of the Red Cow. Unprincipled, self-willed, ill-tempered, and over-reaching. Money is the only thing that moves her, and when she has taken a bribe she will whittle down the service to the finest point.—Colman: John Bull (1805).

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