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It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader of the important part still performed by the Misletoe in our Christmas gambols.
Jean Jacques Rousseau, so long tormented by his own passions, and persecuted by those of other persons, soothed the latter years of his life by the study of nature: the Mosses in particular engaged his attention. It is these, he would frequently say, that give a look of youth and freshness to our fields; they embellish nature at the moment when the flowers have left us, and when their withered stems are mingled with the mould of our plains. In fact, it is in winter that the Mosses offer to the eye of the botanist their carpet of emerald green, their secret nuptials, and the charming mysteries of the urns and amphoræ which enclose their posterity.
Like those friends whom neither adversity nor ingratitude can alienate, the Mosses, banished from cultivated lands, take possession of waste and sterile spots, which they cover with their own substance, and gradually change into
a fertile soil : they spread themselves over marshes, and soon transform them into smiling plains. In winter, when no other plants vegetate, they take up the hydrogen and the carbon which vitiate the air we breathe, and give it back to us charged with the oxygen which purifies it. In summer, they form, beneath overarching trees, carpets on which the shepherd, the lover, and the poet, alike delight to rest. The little birds line with it the nests which they prepare for their infant families, and the squirrel constructs with it his circular dwelling. Nay, it may be asserted that but for the Mosses part of our globe would be uninhabitable.
At the extremity of the earth, the Laplanders cover with Moss the subterraneous abodes, where, collected in families, they defy the longest and severest winters. Their numerous herds of reindeer have no other food, yet they supply their owners with delicious milk, nutritious flesh, and warm clothing; thus combining for the poor Laplander all the advantages that we derive from the cow, the horse, and the sheep.
Thus Nature dispenses her bounty in the most rigorous climates : she enwraps in Moss all that vegetates and all that breathes, as in a vegetable fleece, capable of preserving her less gifted children from the effects of the intense cold, and keeping them warm upon her maternal bosom.
I DIE IF NEGLECTED.
This pretty plant, which is the gift of Spain, is the ornament of our shrubberies in winter, appearing in full leaf and flower at a time when other plants are stripped of their's. Neither the scorching breath of summer nor the cold blast of winter can despoil it of its charm3: at the same time, assiduous care is necessary to preserve it. The emblem of constant and delicate friendship, it always seeks to please, but dies if neglected.