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monstrous plants have been given to barbarous Africa : they grow upon rocks, in dry sand, amidst a burning atmosphere, breathed by lions and tigers. Let us be thankful to bounteous Nature, who in our mild climate has every where raised bowers of verdure over our heads, and spread carpets of daisies, primroses, and violets, under our feet!
FRIENDSHIP has sometimes chosen for its device a fallen tree, firmly embraced by the verdant arms of the Ivy, with this motto: “Nothing can part us.” In Greece the altar of Hymen was encircled with Ivy, and a branch of it was presented to the new-married couple, as a symbol of the indissoluble knot. It was sacred to Bacchus, who is represented crowned with Ivy-leaves, as well as those of the vine. It formed the crown of the Greek and Roman poets; and, in modern times, woman's love, constancy, and dependence, have been expressed by it.
Ingratitude has been sometimes represented by the Ivy strangling its supporting benefactor. This calumny has been repelled by the author of the Studies of Nature,” who regards it as the model of pure friendship. Nothing,” says he, can separate it from the tree which it has once embraced: it clothes it with its own
leaves in that inclement season when its dark boughs are covered with hoar-frost. The faithful companion of its destiny, it falls when the tree is cut down : death itself does not relax its grasp, and it continues to adorn with its verdure the dry trunk which once supported it.”
These ideas, equally refined and pathetic, have the additional merit of truth. The Ivy is attached to the earth by its own roots, and derives no nourishment from the substances to which it clings. The protector of ruins, it adorns the dilapidated walls which it holds together : it will not accept every kind of support, but its attachments end only with its life.
I SURMOUNT ALL DIFFICULTIES.
The Misletoe is a creeping plant, which grows on the tops of the tallest trees. The proud oak is its slave, and nourishes it with his own substance. The Druids paid a kind of adoration to it, as the emblem of a weakness that was superior to strength: they regarded the tyrant of the oak as equally formidable to men and gods. This opinion was founded on the following fable of their mythology.
One day, Balder told his mother Friga that he dreamt he was dying. Friga charmed fire, metals, diseases, water, and animals, that they might not have power to harm her son; and her spells were so powerful that nothing could resist them. Balder, therefore, mingled fearlessly in the battles of the gods. Loke, his enemy, wished to ascertain how it was that he always escaped unhurt. Assuming the form of an old woman, he repaired to Friga. “In battle,” said he to her, “arrows, javelins, and rocks, fall upon your son Balder, without doing him any harm.”—“ I know it,” said Friga; “all those things have sworn not to hurt him: there is nothing in nature from which I have not obtained the same promise, except a plant which seemed too weak to do him any injury : it grows upon the bark of the oak, and it is called Misletoe.” Thus spake Friga. Loke instantly went in quest of the plant, and, returning to the assembled gods, who were fighting with the invulnerable Balder, for their sports are battles, he went up to the blind Heder.
Why,” said he, “ dost not thou launch thy darts against Balder?”. Alas !” replied Heder, “I am blind, and I have no weapons." Loke gave him a dart made of Misletoe, saying,
Balder is right before thee.” The blind Heder threw the dart, which pierced Balder, who fell lifeless. Thus the invulnerable son of a goddess was killed by a dart made of Misletoe, thrown by a blind man. Such is the origin of the respect paid by the Gauls to this parasite shrub.