As the pursuit of useful knowledge is at all times commendable, and not only does it elevate the individual who encourages it, but is one of the most certain and direct means by which nations are' exalted and human nature is dignified; the progressive people, who happily acquire and foster it, are in possession of the greatest boon man can possibly enjoy, or confer upon his fellow creatures. For whoever imparts to others a knowledge of that which tends to mentally elevate, or morally improve them, or, in any sense makes them better or wiser, are assuredly benefactors to their species. Pure philanthropic deeds of so high an order are like unto the saintly acts of" Benignant Mercy,*' or the loving ways of her angelic sister " Sweet Charity," whose benevolence blesses all who receive, as well as them who give.

And, as an anxious learner, desiring to profit from the rich and ample stores of wisdom of those who are fortunately better informed than myself, and which so many intelligent writers generously give to the readers of this magazine, and to whom, I, in particular, am so much indebted for their uniform kindness, I feel constrained, in like manner, to make some returns for their favors, and which I fear is at best but a poor exchange for benefits received. And with equal force do these remarks apply to the courteous Editor, whose long experience and profound erudition eminently qualify him to give sound advice to enquiring friends, through his common-sense editorials and polished essays. And although unable to give full equivalents for what I get, I nevertheless, strive to liquidate the obligations I am under, as best I can; and when addressing him, often feel how applicable would be the regretful, or apologetic language of the poet, when offering my effusions to him, were I to adopt his expressive diction and say - "I give thee all, I can no more Though poor the offering be".

And thus, it sometimes comes to pass, when tempted to tell what I know about Nature's pleasant ways, as I understand them, that I make you my confidants, and divulge her secrets, if secrets they be, to whomsoever lends a willing ear. For, as Carlyle says, "there is a mystery and majesty of Nature, take her as you will".

And now, kind reader, it is the singular parasitical bush of antiquity, the dear old Mistletoe, long prided for its peculiar virtues, by the young of both sexes, in bygone days, and which, I ween, about Christmas tide, are still as potent now, and of which we will pleasantly discuss. And while the delightful pictures of the past remain unfaded with time, in fancy I can again see the bunch of Mistletoe conveniently suspended during the gladsome occasion, in some friendly hall, for those who desire to enjoy the kissing privileges they are entitled to beneath the inviting bush.

This popular and pleasant old custom, which time and natural inclination sanctions, is not likely to fall into disuse or abeyance; for as long as there are tempting lips to kiss, will the " Mistletoe Bough," and its happy associations, never become obsolete or forgotten.

Washington Irving, the most sentimental of all American writers, in his charming description of Christmas time in England, speaks of it as "honest and genuine enjoyment; " and alludes to "the Mistletoe with its white berries, hung up to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids." And whoever regards the felicitous events of the past, as happy days gone by, even should they be in " the sere and yellow-leaf," will sometimes recall the pleasant recollections which cling to them still. Such mirthful gatherings of happy mortals - which were wont to assemble round the cheerful fire, to "join in the festive dance or joyous song," while furtive glances were slyly cast at the Mistletoe on the ceiling, with a delightful expectancy of getting under it, - will ever retain their mark, as red-letter days, in the calendar of life.

A poetical description of Christmas Eve in feudal times is graphically given in the following lines by Scott:

" On Christmas Eve the bells were rung; On Christmas Eve the mass was sung: That only night of all the year, Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear. The damsel donned her kirtle sheen; The hall was dressed with holly green: Forth to the woods did merry men go, To gather in the mistletoe. Then opened wide the Baron's hall To vassal, tenant, serf, and all".

This ancient evergreeen bush, the close companion of " the brave old oak," has a history which reaches far away into the dim and misty past. To the Greeks and Romans it was well known; and Pliny tells us, "the Gauls held this plant in the greatest veneration, and their magicians, whom they call Druids, consider nothing more sacred." And "the Persian magi gathered the mistletoe with great care, and used it in their religious ceremonies." The magical properties of the mistletoe are noticed by Virgil and Ovid; and the poet Lelius mentions it as "one of the things necessary to make a man a magician." To Caesar and Pliny we are mainly indebted for the slight information we possess of this ancient pagan priesthood, who, although they worshipped Apollo, under the name of Belinus, supposed to be identi-tical with Baal of the Phoenicians, their chief deity seems to have been Mercury. A quotation from a magazine of 1791 says, "the guibel, or mistletoe, is supposed by some to have been the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden; and adds, that hence probably arose the custom of kissing under it at Christmas; though this appears to be an unwarrantable conclusion".

There is much speculation in these late days as to the exact significance the idolatrous Druids attached to the mistletoe's uses in their cruel and superstitious rites or orgies, before the emblem of Christianity was raised where the ancient Britons ignorantly worshipped their mythical gods. But that they and our Saxon ancestors regarded it with a senseless veneration or stupid awe in their absurd practices, and believed it would preserve them from witchcraft, history informs us, are authentic facts. And while thankful we are living in happier times, methinks what a wondrous change has come over the scene since the time when the uncivilized Briton with his naked legs and arms painted blue, and a wild beast's skin thrown over his shoulders, roamed about, a veritable heathen, beneath the umbrageous boughs of the majestic oak in Albion's forest shades.