Sunday, 8 November 2009

Sketches of Scottish History (3)

pretended to cure all diseases the grand remedy
being a parasitic plant growing in the oak tree and
called Mistletoe.
The power and influence of this singular order
were immense. Whoever refused obedience to them
was accursed and cut off from every right belonging
to a human being. He was forbidden all use of fire
and no man dared on pain of death to allow the poor
shivering wretch to warm himself. All fled at his
approach, lest they should be polluted by his touch.
Such was the tremendous power which this giant
superstition exercised over the brave but simple
Caledonians or People of the woods, as well as over
all the inhabitants of Britain.

Before concluding this first Chapter, it may be
interesting to insert the following short article
taken from a recent number of " Potter 's American
Monthly ''and which gives some items of useful
information regarding the Mistletoe.
'' This singular plant, so weirdly interwoven with
the superstition and poetry of our Saxon forefathers,
and inseparable from both heathen and
Christian traditions of" Yule-tide," is a coarse, twoleaved
evergreen growing on trees, as many of the
mosses and fungi do. Its leaves are oblong, and
between every pair of them is found a cluster of
small, sticky berries the same of which the substance
called birdlime is made. During the Christmas
week of 1872 the English" mistletoe bough"
was offered for sale in Boston for the first time. We
give our readers the following mythological account
of this plant, still dear to every English home circle.
The mistletoe was the holiest plant in nature to the....

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