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Thistle of Scotland

The Danes thought it cowardly to attack an enemy by night, but on one occasion deviated from their rule. On they crept, barefooted, noiselessly, and unobserved, when one of the men set his foot on a thistle, which made him cry out. The alarm was given, the Scotch fell upon the night-party, and defeated them with terrible slaughter. Ever since the thistle has been adopted as the insignia of Scotland, with the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit. ” This tradition reminds us of Brennus and the geese (See also Stars And Stripes.)

Thistle.
The device of the Scotch monarchs was adopted by Queen Anne, hence the riddle in Pope's pastoral proposed by Daphnis to Strephon:

Tell me, in what more happy fields
The thistle springs, to which the lily yields

Pope: Spring

In the reign of Anne the Duke of Marlborough made the “lily” of France yield to the thistle of Queen Anne. The lines are a parody of Virgil's Eclogue, iii. 104-108.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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