Sphinx to Spirited Away

Sphinx (The Egyptian). Half a woman and half a lion, said to symbolise the “rising of the Nile while the sun is in Leo and Virgo.” This “saying” must be taken for what it is worth.
   Sphinx. Lord Bacon's ingenious resolution of this fable is a fair specimen of what some persons call “spiritualising” incidents and parables. He says that the whole represents “science,” which is regarded by the ignorant as “a monster.” As the figure of the sphinx is heterogeneous, so the subjects of science “are very various.” The female face “denotes volubility of speech;” her wings show that “knowledge like light is rapidly diffused;” her hooked talons remind us of “the arguments of science which enter the mind and lay hold of it.” She is placed on a crag overlooking the city, for “all science is placed on an eminence which is hard to climb.” If the riddles of the sphinx brought disaster, so the riddles of science “perplex and harass the mind.”
   You are a perfect sphinx - You speak in riddles. You are nothing better than a sphinx - You speak so obscurely that I cannot understand you. The sphinx was a sea-monster that proposed a riddle to the Thebans, and murdered all who could not guess it. (Œdipus solved it, and the sphinx put herself to death. The riddle was this-

What goes on four feet, on two feet, and three,
But the more feet it goes on the weaker it be?”
Spice A small admixture, a flavouring; as, “He is all very well, but there's a spice of conceit about him.” Probably the French espèce.

“God's bounte is all pure, without ony espece of evyll.”- Caxton: Mirrour of the World. i.

Spick and Span New Quite and entirely new. A spic is a spike or nail, and a span is a chip. So that a spick and span new ship is one in which every nail and chip is new. Halliwell mentions “span new.” According to Dr. Johnson, the phrase was first applied to cloth just taken off the spannans or stretchers. (Dutch, spikspelderniew.)

   Bruce and the spider. In the spring of 1305, Robert Bruce was crowned at Scone King of Scotland, but, being attacked by the English, 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 this island, 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), 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 Walter Scott: Fair Maid of Perth, ch. ii.
   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.
   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.
   Spider anciently supposed to envenom everything it touched. In the examination

  By PanEris using Melati.

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