Part 4 out of 7
All hushed and solemn, as a thought of God
Held them suspended,--was I not, that hour
The lady of the world, princess of life,
Mistress of feast and favour? _Could I touch
A Rose with my white hand, but it became
Redder at once?_
Another poet. (Mr. C. Cooke) tells us that a species of red rose with
all her blushing honors full upon her, taking pity on a very pale
maiden, changed complexions with the invalid and became herself as white
Byron expressed a wish that all woman-kind had but one _rosy_ mouth,
that he might kiss all woman-kind at once. This, as some one has rightly
observed, is better than Caligula's wish that all mankind had but one
head that he might cut it off at a single blow.
Leigh Hunt has a pleasant line about the rose:
And what a red mouth hath the rose, the woman of the flowers!
In the Malay language the same word signifies _flowers_ and _women_.
Human beauty and the rose are ever suggesting images of each other to
the imagination of the poets. Shakespeare has a beautiful description of
the two little princes sleeping together in the Tower of London.
Their lips were four red roses on a stalk
That in their summer beauty kissed each other.
William Browne (our Devonshire Pastoral Poet) has a _rosy_ description
of a kiss:--
To her Amyntas
Came and saluted; never man before
More blest, nor like this kiss hath been another
But when two dangling cherries kist each other;
Nor ever beauties, like, met at such closes,
But in the kisses of two damask roses.
Here is something in the same spirit from Crashaw.
So have I seen
Two silken sister-flowers consult and lay
Their bashful cheeks together; newly they
Peeped from their buds, showed like the garden's eyes
Scarce waked, like was the crimson of their joys,
Like were the tears they wept, so like that one
Seemed but the other's kind reflection.
Loudon says that there is a rose called the _York and Lancaster_ which
when, it comes true has one half of the flower red and the other half
white. It was named in commemoration of the two houses at the marriage
of Henry VII. of Lancaster with Elizabeth of York.
Anacreon devotes one of his longest and best odes to the laudation of
the Rose. Such innumerable translations have been made of it that it is
now too well known for quotation in this place. Thomas Moore in his
version of the ode gives in a foot-note the following translation of a
fragment of the Lesbian poetess.
If Jove would give the leafy bowers
A queen for all their world of flowers
The Rose would be the choice of Jove,
And blush the queen of every grove
Sweetest child of weeping morning,
Gem the vest of earth adorning,
Eye of gardens, light of lawns,
Nursling of soft summer dawns
June's own earliest sigh it breathes,
Beauty's brow with lustre wreathes,
And to young Zephyr's warm caresses
Spreads abroad its verdant tresses,
Till blushing with the wanton's play
Its cheeks wear e'en a redder ray.
From the idea of excellence attached to this Queen of Flowers arose, as
Thomas Moore observes, the pretty proverbial expression used by
Aristophanes--_you have spoken roses_, a phrase adds the English poet,
somewhat similar to the _dire des fleurettes_ of the French.
The Festival of the Rose is still kept up in many villages of France and
Switzerland. On a certain day of every year the young unmarried women
assemble and undergo a solemn trial before competent judges, the most
virtuous and industrious girl obtains a crown of roses. In the valley of
Engandine, in Switzerland, a man accused of a crime but proved to be not
guilty, is publicly presented by a young maiden with a white rose called
the Rose of Innocence.
Of the truly elegant Moss Rose I need say nothing myself; it has been so
amply honored by far happier pens than mine. Here is a very ingenious
and graceful story of its origin. The lines are from the German.
THE MOSS ROSE
The Angel of the Flowers one day,
Beneath a rose tree sleeping lay,
The spirit to whom charge is given
To bathe young buds in dews of heaven,
Awaking from his light repose
The Angel whispered to the Rose
"O fondest object of my care
Still fairest found where all is fair,
For the sweet shade thou givest to me
Ask what thou wilt 'tis granted thee"
"Then" said the Rose, "with deepened glow
On me another grace bestow."
The spirit paused in silent thought
What grace was there the flower had not?
'Twas but a moment--o'er the rose
A veil of moss the Angel throws,
And robed in Nature's simple weed,
Could there a flower that rose exceed?
Madame de Genlis tells us that during her first visit to England she saw
a moss-rose for the first time in her life, and that when she took it
back to Paris it gave great delight to her fellow-citizens, who said it
was the first that had ever been seen in that city. Madame de Latour
says that Madame de Genlis was mistaken, for the moss-rose came
originally from Provence and had been known to the French for ages.
The French are said to have cultivated the Rose with extraordinary care
and success. It was the favorite flower of the Empress Josephine, who
caused her own name to be traced in the parterres at Malmaison with a
plantation of the rarest roses. In the royal rosary at Versailles there
are standards eighteen feet high grafted with twenty different varieties
of the rose.
With the Romans it was no metaphor but an allusion to a literal fact
when they talked of sleeping upon beds of roses. Cicero in his third
oration against Verres, when charging the proconsul with luxurious
habits, stated that he had made the tour of Sicily seated upon roses.
And Seneca says, of course jestingly, that a Sybarite of the name of
Smyrndiride was unable to sleep if one of the rose-petals on his bed
happened to be curled! At a feast which Cleopatra gave to Marc Antony
the floor of the hall was covered with fresh roses to the depth of
eighteen inches. At a fete given by Nero at Baiae the sum of four
millions of sesterces or about 20,000_l_. was incurred for roses. The
Natives of India are fond of the rose, and are lavish in their
expenditure at great festivals, but I suppose that no millionaire
amongst them ever spent such an amount of money as this upon flowers
I shall close the poetical quotations on the Rose with one of
O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem,
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses;
But for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade;
Die to themselves. Sweet Roses do not so;
Of then sweet deaths are sweetest odours made:
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distils your truth.
There are many hundred acres of rose trees at Ghazeepore which are
cultivated for distillation, and making "attar." There are large fields
of roses in England also, for the manufacture of rose-water.
There is a story about the origin of attar of Roses. The Princess
Nourmahal caused a large tank, on which she used to be rowed about with
the great Mogul, to be filled with rose-water. The heat of the sun
separating the water from the essential oil of the rose, the latter was
observed to be floating on the surface. The discovery was immediately
turned to good account. At Ghazeepoor, the _essence_, _atta_ or _uttar_
or _otto_, or whatever it should be called, is obtained with great
simplicity and ease. After the rose water is prepared it is put into
large open vessels which are left out at night. Early in the morning the
oil that floats upon the surface is skimmed off, or sucked up with fine
dry cotton wool, put into bottles, and carefully sealed. Bishop Heber
says that to produce one rupee's weight of atta 200,000 well grown roses
are required, and that a rupee's weight sells from 80 to 100 rupees. The
atta sold in Calcutta is commonly adulterated with the oil of sandal
The LINNAEA BOREALIS, or two horned Linnaea, though a simple Lapland
flower, is interesting to all botanists from its association with the
name of the Swedish Sage. It has pretty little bells and is very
fragrant. It is a wild, unobtrusive plant and is very averse to the
trim lawn and the gay flower-border. This little woodland beauty pines
away under too much notice. She prefers neglect, and would rather waste
her sweetness on the desert air, than be introduced into the fashionable
lists of Florist's flowers. She shrinks from exposure to the sun. A
gentleman after walking with Linnaeus on the shores of the lake near
Charlottendal on a lovely evening, writes thus "I gathered a small
flower and asked if it was the _Linnaea borealis_. 'Nay,' said the
philosopher, 'she lives not here, but in the middle of our largest
woods. She clings with her little arms to the moss, and seems to resist
very gently if you force her from it. She has a complexion like a
milkmaid, and ah! she is very, very sweet and agreeable!"
The dear little FORGET-ME-NOT, (_myosotis palustris_) with its eye
of blue, is said to have derived its touching appellation from a
sentimental German story. Two lovers were walking on the bank of a rapid
stream. The lady beheld the flower growing on a little island, and
expressed a passionate desire to possess it. He gallantly plunged into
the stream and obtained the flower, but exhausted by the force of the
tide, he had only sufficient strength left as he neared the shore to
fling the flower at the fair one's feet, and exclaim "_Forget-me-not!_"
(_Vergiss-mein-nicht_.) He was then carried away by the stream, out of
her sight for ever.
The PERIWINKLE (_vinca_ or _pervinca_) has had its due share of poetical
distinction. In France the common people call it the Witch's violet. It
seems to have suggested to Wordsworth an idea of the consciousness of
Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
The Periwinkle trailed its wreaths,
_And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes._
Mr. J.L. Merritt, has some complimentary lines on this flower.
The Periwinkle with its fan-like leaves
All nicely levelled, is a lovely flower
Whose dark wreath, myrtle like, young Flora weaves;
There's none more rare
Nor aught more meet to deck a fairy's bower
Or grace her hair.
The little blue Periwinkle is rendered especially interesting to the
admirers of the genius of Rousseau by an anecdote that records his
emotion on meeting it in one of his botanical excursions. He had seen it
thirty years before in company with Madame de Warens. On meeting its
sweet face again, after so long and eventful an interim, he fell upon
his knees, crying out--_Ah! voila de la pervanche!_ "It struck him,"
says Hazlitt, "as the same little identical flower that he remembered so
well; and thirty years of sorrow and bitter regret were effaced from his
The Periwinkle was once supposed to be a cure for many diseases. Lord
Bacon says that in his time people afflicted with cramp wore bands of
green periwinkle tied about their limbs. It had also its supposed moral
influences. According to Culpepper the leaves of the flower if eaten by
man and wife together would revive between them a lost affection.
Sweet marjoram, with her like, _sweet basil_, rare for smell.
The BASIL is a plant rendered poetical by the genius which has handled
it. Boccaccio and Keats have made the name of the _sweet basil_ sound
pleasantly in the ears of many people who know nothing of botany. A
species of this plant (known in Europe under the botanical name of
_Ocymum villosum_, and in India as the _Toolsee_) is held sacred by the
Hindus. Toolsee was a disciple of Vishnu. Desiring to be his wife she
excited the jealousy of Lukshmee by whom she was transformed into the
herb named after her.
Tulips, like the ruddy evening streaked.
The TULIP (_tulipa_) is the glory of the garden, as far as color without
fragrance can confer such distinction. Some suppose it to be 'The Lily
of the Field' alluded to in the Sermon on the Mount. It grows wild in
The name of the tulip is said to be of Turkish origin. It was called
Tulipa from its resemblance to the tulipan or turban.
What crouds the rich Divan to-day
With turbaned heads, of every hue
Bowing before that veiled and awful face
Like Tulip-beds of different shapes and dyes,
Bending beneath the invisible west wind's sighs?
The reader has probably heard of the Tulipomania once carried to so
great an excess in Holland.
With all his phlegm, it broke a Dutchman's heart,
At a vast price, with one loved root to part.
About the middle of the 17th century the city of Haarlem realized in
three years ten millions sterling by the sale of tulips. A single tulip
(the _Semper Augustus_) was sold for one thousand pounds. Twelve acres
of land were given for a single root and engagements to the amount of
L5,000 were made for a first-class tulip when the mania was at its
height. A gentleman, who possessed a tulip of great value, hearing that
some one was in possession of a second root of the same kind, eagerly
secured it at a most extravagant price. The moment he got possession of
it, he crushed it under his foot. "Now," he exclaimed, "my tulip is
A Dutch Merchant gave a sailor a herring for his breakfast. Jack seeing
on the Merchant's counter what he supposed to be a heap of onions, took
up a handful of them and ate them with his fish. The supposed onions
were tulip bulbs of such value that they would have paid the cost of a
thousand Royal feasts.
The tulip mania never leached so extravagant a height in England as in
Holland, but our country did not quite escape the contagion, and even so
late as the year 1836 at the sale of Mr. Clarke's tulips at Croydon,
seventy two pounds were given for a single bulb of the _Fanny Kemble_;
and a Florist in Chelsea in the same year, priced a bulb in his
catalogue at 200 guineas.
The Tulip is not endeared to us by many poetical associations. We have
read, however, one pretty and romantic tale about it. A poor old woman
who lived amongst the wild hills of Dartmoor, in Devonshire, possessed a
beautiful bed of Tulips, the pride of her small garden. One fine
moonlight night her attention was arrested by the sweet music which
seemed to issue from a thousand Liliputian choristers. She found that
the sounds proceeded from her many colored bells of Tulips. After
watching the flowers intently she perceived that they were not swayed to
and fro by the wind, but by innumerable little beings that were climbing
on the stems and leaves. They were pixies. Each held in its arms an
elfin baby tinier than itself. She saw the babies laid in the bells of
the plant, which were thus used as cradles, and the music was formed of
many lullabies. When the babies were asleep the pixies or fairies left
them, and gamboled on the neighbouring sward on which the old lady
discovered the day after, several new green rings,--a certain evidence
that her fancy had not deceived her! At earliest dawn the fairies had
returned to the tulips and taken away their little ones. The good old
woman never permitted her tulip bed to be disturbed. She regarded it as
holy ground. But when she died, some Utilitarian gardener turned it into
a parsley bed! The parsley never flourished. The ground was now cursed.
In gratitude to the memory of the benevolent dame who had watched and
protected the floral nursery, every month, on the night before the full
moon, the fairies scattered flowers on her grave, and raised a sweet
musical dirge--heard only by poetic ears--or by maids and children who
Hold each strange tale devoutly true.
For as the poet says:
What though no credit doubting wits may give,
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Men of genius are often as trustful as maids and children. Collins,
himself a lover of the wonderful, thus speaks of Tasso:--
Prevailing poet! whose undoubting mind
Believed the magic wonders that he sung.
All nature indeed is full of mystery to the imaginative.
And visions as poetic eyes avow
Hang on each leaf and cling to every bough.
The Hindoos believe that the Peepul tree of which the foliage trembles
like that of the aspen, has a spirit in every leaf.
"Did you ever see a fairy's funeral, Madam?" said Blake, the artist.
"Never Sir." "_I_ have," continued that eccentric genius, "One night I
was walking alone in my garden. There was great stillness amongst the
branches and flowers and more than common sweetness in the air. I heard
a low and pleasant sound, and knew not whence it came: at last I
perceived _the broad leaf of a flower move_, and underneath I saw a
procession of creatures the size and color of green and gray
grasshoppers, _bearing a body laid out on a rose leaf_, which they
buried with song, and then disappeared."
The PINK (_dianthus_) is a very elegant flower. I have but a short story
about it. The young Duke of Burgundy, grandson of Louis the Fifteenth,
was brought up in the midst of flatterers as fulsome as those rebuked by
Canute. The youthful prince was fond of cultivating pinks, and one of
his courtiers, by substituting a floral changeling, persuaded him that
one of those pinks planted by the royal hand had sprung up into bloom in
a single night! One night, being unable to sleep, he wished to rise, but
was told that it was midnight; he replied "_Well then, I desire it to be
The pink is one of the commonest of the flowers in English gardens. It
is a great favorite all over Europe. The botanists have enumerated about
400 varieties of it.
THE PANSY OR HEARTS-EASE.
The PANSY (_viola tricolor_) commonly called _Hearts-ease_, or
_Love-in-idleness_, or _Herb-Trinity_ (_Flos Trinitarium_), or
_Three-faces-under-a-hood_, or _Kit-run-about_, is one of the richest
and loveliest of flowers.
The late Mrs. Siddons, the great actress, was so fond of this flower
that she thought she could never have enough of it. Besides round beds
of it she used it as an edging to all the flower borders in her garden.
She liked to plant a favorite flower in large masses of beauty. But such
beauty must soon fatigue the eye with its sameness. A round bed of one
sort of flowers only is like a nosegay composed of one sort of flowers
or of flowers of the same hue. She was also particularly fond of
evergreens because they gave her garden a pleasant aspect even in the
"Do you hear him?"--(John Bunyan makes the guide enquire of Christiana
while a shepherd boy is singing beside his sheep)--"I will dare to say
this boy leads a merrier life, and wears more of the herb called
_hearts-ease_ in his bosom, than he that is clothed in silk and purple."
Shakespeare has connected this flower with a compliment to the maiden
Queen of England.
That very time I saw (but thou couldst not)
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid all armed, a certain aim he took
At a fair Vestal, throned by the west;
And loosed his love-shaft smartly from his bow
As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts.
But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
Quenched in the chaste beams of the watery moon--
And the imperial votaress passed on
In maiden meditation fancy free,
Yet marked I where the bolt of Cupid fell.
It fell upon _a little western flowers,
Before milk white, now purple with love's wound--
And maidens call it_ LOVE IN IDLENESS
Fetch me that flower, the herb I showed thee once,
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees.
Fetch me this herb and be thou here again,
Ere the leviathan can swim a league.
_Midsummer Night's Dream._
The hearts-ease has been cultivated with great care and success by some
of the most zealous flower-fanciers amongst our countrymen in India. But
it is a delicate plant in this clime, and requires most assiduous
attention, and a close study of its habits. It always withers here under
The MIGNONETTE, (_reseda odorato_,) the Frenchman's _little darling_,
was not introduced into England until the middle of the 17th century.
The Mignonette or Sweet Reseda was once supposed capable of assuaging
pain, and of ridding men of many of the ills that flesh is heir to. It
was applied with an incantation. This flower has found a place in the
armorial bearings of an illustrious family of Saxony. I must tell the
story: The Count of Walsthim loved the fair and sprightly Amelia de
Nordbourg. She was a spoilt child and a coquette. She had an humble
companion whose christian name was Charlotte. One evening at a party,
all the ladies were called upon to choose a flower each, and the
gentlemen were to make verses on the selections. Amelia fixed upon the
flaunting rose, Charlotte the modest mignonette. In the course of the
evening Amelia coquetted so desperately with a dashing Colonel that the
Count could not suppress his vexation. On this he wrote a verse for the
Elle ne vit qu'un jour, et ne plait qu'un moment.
(She lives but for a day and pleases but for a moment)
He then presented the following line on the Mignonette to the gentle
"Ses qualities surpassent ses charmes."
The Count transferred his affections to Charlotte, and when he married
her, added a branch of the Sweet Reseda to the ancient arms of his
family, with the motto of
Your qualities surpass your charms.
That hind'reth witches of their will.
VERVAIN (_verbena_) was called by the Greeks _the sacred herb_. It was
used to brush their altars. It was supposed to keep off evil spirits. It
was also used in the religious ceremonies of the Druids and is still
held sacred by the Persian Magi. The latter lay branches of it on the
altar of the sun.
The ancients had their _Verbenalia_ when the temples were strewed with
vervain, and no incantation or lustration was deemed perfect without the
aid of this plant. It was supposed to cure the bite of a serpent or a
The DAISY or day's eye (_bellis perennis_) has been the darling of the
British poets from Chaucer to Shelley. It is not, however, the darling
of poets only, but of princes and peasants. And it is not man's favorite
only, but, as Wordsworth says, Nature's favorite also. Yet it is "the
simplest flower that blows." Its seed is broadcast on the land. It is
the most familiar of flowers. It sprinkles every field and lane in the
country with its little mimic stars. Wordsworth pays it a beautiful
compliment in saying that
Oft alone in nooks remote
_We meet it like a pleasant thought
When such is wanted._
But though this poet dearly loved the daisy, in some moods of mind he
seems to have loved the little celandine (common pilewort) even better.
He has addressed two poems to this humble little flower. One begins with
the following stanza.
Pansies, Lilies, Kingcups, Daisies,
Let them live upon their praises;
Long as there's a sun that sets
Primroses will have their glory;
Long as there are Violets,
They will have a place in story:
There's a flower that shall be mine,
'Tis the little Celandine.
No flower is too lowly for the affections of Wordsworth. Hazlitt says,
"the daisy looks up to Wordsworth with sparkling eye as an old
acquaintance; a withered thorn is weighed down with a heap of
recollections; and even the lichens on the rocks have a life and being
in his thoughts."
The Lesser Celandine, is an inodorous plant, but as Wordsworth possessed
not the sense of smell, to him a deficiency of fragrance in a flower
formed no objection to it. Miss Martineau alludes to a newspaper report
that on one occasion the poet suddenly found himself capable of enjoying
the fragrance of a flower, and gave way to an emotion of tumultuous
rapture. But I have seen this contradicted. Miss Martineau herself has
generally no sense of smell, but we have her own testimony to the fact
that a brief enjoyment of the faculty once actually occurred to her. In
her case there was a simultaneous awakening of two dormant
faculties--the sense of smell and the sense of taste. Once and once only,
she enjoyed the scent of a bottle of Eau de Cologne and the taste of meat.
The two senses died away again almost in their birth.
Shelley calls Daisies "those pearled Arcturi of the earth"--"the
constellated flower that never sets."
The Father of English poets does high honor to this star of the meadow
in the "Prologue to the Legend of Goode Women."
He tells us that in the merry month of May he was wont to quit even his
beloved books to look upon the fresh morning daisy.
Of all the floures in the mede
Then love I most these floures white and red,
Such that men callen Daisies in our town,
To them I have so great affection.
As I sayd erst, when comen is the Maie,
That in my bedde there dawneth me no daie
That I nam up and walking in the mede
To see this floure agenst the Sunne sprede,
When it up riseth early by the morrow
That blisfull sight softeneth all my sorrow.
The poet then goes on with his hearty laudation of this lilliputian
luminary of the fields, and hesitates not to describe it as "of all
floures the floure." The famous Scottish Peasant loved it just as truly,
and did it equal honor. Who that has once read, can ever forget his
harmonious and pathetic address to a mountain daisy on turning it up
with the plough? I must give the poem a place here, though it must be
familiar to every reader. But we can read it again and again, just as we
can look day after day with undiminished interest upon the flower that
Mrs. Stowe (the American writer) observes that "the daisy with its wide
plaited ruff and yellow centre is not our (that is, an American's)
flower. The English flower is the
Wee, modest, crimson tipped flower
which Burns celebrated. It is what we (in America) raise in green-houses
and call the Mountain Daisy. Its effect, growing profusely about fields
and grass-plats, is very beautiful."
TO A MOUNTAIN DAISY.
ON TURNING ONE DOWN WITH THE PLOUGH IN APRIL, 1786
Wee, modest, crimson tipped flow'r,
Thou's met me in an evil hour,
For I maun crush amang the stoure
Thy slender stem,
To spare thee now is past my pow'r,
Thou bonnie gem.
Alas! its no thy neobor sweet,
The bonnie lark, companion meet,
Bending thee 'mang the dewy weet
Wi' speckled breast,
When upward springing, blythe, to greet
The purpling east
Cauld blew the bitter biting north
Upon thy early, humble, birth,
Yet cheerfully thou glinted forth
Amid the storm,
Scarce reared above the patient earth
Thy tender form
The flaunting flowers our gardens yield,
High sheltering woods and wa's maun shield,
But thou beneath the random bield
O' clod or stane,
Adorns the histie stibble field
There, in thy scanty mantle clad,
Thy snawye bosom sun ward spread,
Thou lifts thy unassuming head
In humble guise,
But now the share up tears thy bed,
And low thou lies!
Such is the fate of artless Maid,
Sweet flow'ret of the rural shade!
By love's simplicity betrayed,
And guileless trust,
Till she, like thee, all soiled is laid
Low i' the dust.
Such is the fate of simple Bard,
On Life's rough ocean luckless starred!
Unskilful he to note the card
Of prudent lore,
Till billows rage, and gales blow hard
And whelm him o'er!
Such fate to suffering worth is given
Who long with wants and woes has striven
By human pride or cunning driven
To misery's brink,
Till wrenched of every stay but Heaven,
He, ruined, sink!
Ev'n thou who mourn'st the Daisy's fate,
That fate is thine--no distant date;
Stern Ruin's plough-share drives elate,
Full on thy bloom;
Till crushed beneath the furrow's weight
Shall be thy doom.
The following verses though they make no pretension to the strength and
pathos of the poem by the great Scottish Peasant, have a grace and
simplicity of their own, for which they have long been deservedly
A FIELD FLOWER.
ON FINDING ONE IN FULL BLOOM, ON CHRISTMAS DAY, 1803.
There is a flower, a little flower,
With silver crest and golden eye,
That welcomes every changing hour,
And weathers every sky.
The prouder beauties of the field
In gay but quick succession shine,
Race after race their honours yield,
They flourish and decline.
But this small flower, to Nature dear,
While moons and stars their courses run,
Wreathes the whole circle of the year,
Companion of the sun.
It smiles upon the lap of May,
To sultry August spreads its charms,
Lights pale October on his way,
And twines December's arms.
The purple heath and golden broom,
On moory mountains catch the gale,
O'er lawns the lily sheds perfume,
The violet in the vale.
But this bold floweret climbs the hill,
Hides in the forest, haunts the glen,
Plays on the margin of the rill,
Peeps round the fox's den.
Within the garden's cultured round
It shares the sweet carnation's bed;
And blooms on consecrated ground
In honour of the dead.
The lambkin crops its crimson gem,
The wild-bee murmurs on its breast,
The blue-fly bends its pensile stem,
Light o'er the sky-lark's nest.
'Tis FLORA'S page,--in every place,
In every season fresh and fair;
It opens with perennial grace.
And blossoms everywhere.
On waste and woodland, rock and plain,
Its humble buds unheeded rise;
The rose has but a summer-reign;
The DAISY never dies.
Montgomery has another very pleasing poetical address to the daisy. The
poem was suggested by the first plant of the kind which had appeared in
India. The flower sprang up unexpectedly out of some English earth, sent
with other seeds in it, to this country. The amiable Dr. Carey of
Serampore was the lucky recipient of the living treasure, and the poem
is supposed to be addressed by him to the dear little flower of his
home, thus born under a foreign sky. Dr. Carey was a great lover of
flowers, and it was one of his last directions on his death-bed, as I
have already said, that his garden should be always protected from the
intrusion of Goths and Vandals in the form of Bengallee goats and cows.
I must give one stanza of Montgomery's second poetical tribute to the
small flower with "the silver crest and golden eye."
Thrice-welcome, little English flower!
To this resplendent hemisphere
Where Flora's giant offsprings tower
In gorgeous liveries all the year;
Thou, only thou, art little here
Like worth unfriended and unknown,
Yet to my British heart more dear
Than all the torrid zone.
It is difficult to exaggerate the feeling with which an exile welcomes a
home-flower. A year or two ago Dr. Ward informed the Royal Institution
of London, that a single primrose had been taken to Australia in a
glass-case and that when it arrived there in full bloom, the sensation
it excited was so great that even those who were in the hot pursuit of
gold, paused in their eager career to gaze for a moment upon the flower
of their native fields, and such immense crowds at last pressed around
it that it actually became necessary to protect it by a guard.
My last poetical tribute to the Daisy shall be three stanzas from
Wordsworth, from two different addresses to the same flower.
With little here to do or see
Of things that in the great world be,
Sweet Daisy! oft I talk to thee,
For thou art worthy,
Thou unassuming Common-place
Of Nature, with that homely face,
And yet with something of a grace,
Which Love makes for thee!
* * * * *
If stately passions in me burn,
And one chance look to Thee should turn,
I drink out of an humbler urn
A lowlier pleasure;
The homely sympathy that heeds
The common life, our nature breeds;
A wisdom fitted to the needs
Of hearts at leisure.
When, smitten by the morning ray,
I see thee rise, alert and gay,
Then, cheerful Flower! my spirits play
With kindred gladness;
And when, at dusk, by dews opprest
Thou sink'st, the image of thy rest
Hath often eased my pensive breast
Of careful sadness.
It is peculiarly interesting to observe how the profoundest depths of
thought and feeling are sometimes stirred in the heart of genius by the
smallest of the works of Nature. Even more ordinarily gifted men are
similarly affected to the utmost extent of their intellect and
sensibility. We grow tired of the works of man. In the realms of art we
ever crave something unseen before. We demand new fashions, and when the
old are once laid aside, we wonder that they should ever have excited
even a moment's admiration. But Nature, though she is always the same,
never satiates us. The simple little Daisy which Burns has so sweetly
commemorated is the same flower that was "of all flowres the flowre," in
the estimation of the Patriarch of English poets, and which so delighted
Wordsworth in his childhood, in his middle life, and in his old age. He
gazed on it, at intervals, with unchanging affection for upwards of
The Daisy--the miniature sun with its tiny rays--is especially the
favorite of our earliest years. In our remembrances of the happy meadows
in which we played in childhood, the daisy's silver lustre is ever
connected with the deeper radiance of its gay companion, the butter-cup,
which when held against the dimple on the cheek or chin of beauty turns
it into a little golden dell. The thoughtful and sensitive frequenter of
rural scenes discovers beauty every where; though it is not always the
sort of beauty that would satisfy the taste of men who recognize no
gaiety or loveliness beyond the walls of cities. To the poet's eye even
the freckles on a milk-maid's brow are not without a grace, associated
as they are with health, and the open sunshine.
Chaucer tells us that the French call the Daisy _La belle Marguerite_.
There is a little anecdote connected with the appellation. Marguerite of
Scotland, the Queen of Louis the Eleventh, presented Marguerite Clotilde
de Surville, a poetess, with a bouquet of daisies, with this
inscription; "Marguerite d'Ecosse a Marguerite (_the pearl_) d'Helicon."
The country maidens in England practise a kind of sortilege with this
flower. They pluck off leaf by leaf, saying alternately "_He loves me_"
and "_He loves me not_." The omen or oracle is decided by the fall of
either sentence on the last leaf.
It is extremely difficult to rear the daisy in India. It is accustomed
to all weathers in England, but the long continued sultriness of this
clime makes it as delicate as a languid English lady in a tropical
exile, and however carefully and skilfully nursed, it generally pines
for its native air and dies.
THE PRICKLY GORSE.
--Yon swelling downs where the sweet air stirs
The harebells, and where prickly furze
Buds lavish gold.
Fair maidens, I'll sing you a song,
I'll tell of the bonny wild flower,
Whose blossoms so yellow, and branches so long,
O'er moor and o'er rough rocky mountains are flung
Far away from trim garden and bower
The PRICKLY GORSE or Goss or Furze, (_ulex_) I cannot omit to
notice, because it was the plant which of all others most struck
Dillenius when he first trod on English ground. He threw himself on his
knees and thanked Heaven that he had lived to see the golden undulation
of acres of wind-waved gorse. Linnaeus lamented that he could scarcely
keep it alive in Sweden even in a greenhouse.
I have the most delightful associations connected with this plant, and
never think of it without a summer feeling and a crowd of delightful
images and remembrances of rural quietude and blue skies and balmy
breezes. Cowper hardly does it justice:
The common, over-grown with fern, and rough
With prickly gorse, that shapeless and deformed
And dangerous to the touch, has yet its bloom
And decks itself with ornaments of gold,
Yields no unpleasing ramble.
The plant is indeed irregularly shaped, but it is not _deformed_, and if
it is dangerous to the touch, so also is the rose, unless it be of that
species which Milton places in Paradise--"_and without thorns the
Hurdis is more complimentary and more just to the richest ornament of
the swelling hill and the level moor.
And what more noble than the vernal furze
With golden caskets hung?
I have seen whole _cotees_ or _coteaux_ (sides of hills) in the sweet
little island of Jersey thickly mantled with the golden radiance of this
beautiful wildflower. The whole Vallee des Vaux (_the valley of
vallies_) is sometimes alive with its lustre.
VALLEE DES VAUX.
AIR--THE MEETING OF THE WATERS.
If I dream of the past, at fair Fancy's command,
Up-floats from the blue sea thy small sunny land!
O'er thy green hills, sweet Jersey, the fresh breezes blow,
And silent and warm is the Vallee des Vaux!
There alone have I loitered 'mid blossoms of gold,
And forgot that the great world was crowded and cold,
Nor believed that a land of enchantment could show
A vale more divine than the Vallee des Vaux.
A few scattered cots, like white clouds in the sky,
Or like still sails at sea when the light breezes die,
And a mill with its wheel in the brook's silver glow,
Form thy beautiful hamlet, sweet Vallee des Vaux!
As the brook prattled by like an infant at play,
And each wave as it passed stole a moment away,
I thought how serenely a long life would flow,
By the sweet little brook in the Vallee des Vaux.
Jersey is not the only one of the Channel Islands that is enriched with
"blossoms of gold." In the sister island of Guernsey the prickly gorse
is much used for hedges, and Sir George Head remarks that the premises
of a Guernsey farmer are thus as impregnably fortified and secured as if
his grounds were surrounded by a stone wall. In the Isle of Man the
furze grows so high that it is sometimes more like a fir tree than the
There is an old proverb:--"When gorse is out of blossom, kissing is out
of fashion"--that is _never_. The gorse blooms all the year.
I'll seek the shaggy fern-clad hill
And watch, 'mid murmurs muttering stern,
The seed departing from the fern
Ere wakeful demons can convey
The wonder-working charm away.
"The green and graceful Fern" (_filices_) with its exquisite tracery
must not be overlooked. It recalls many noble home-scenes to British
eyes. Pliny says that "of ferns there are two kinds, and they bear
neither flowers nor seed." And this erroneous notion of the fern bearing
no seed was common amongst the English even so late as the time of
Addison who ridicules "a Doctor that had arrived at the knowledge of the
green and red dragon, _and had discovered the female fern-seed_." The
seed is very minute and might easily escape a careless eye. In the
present day every one knows that the seed of the fern lies on the under
side of the leaves, and a single leaf will often bear some millions of
seeds. Even those amongst the vulgar who believed the plant bore seed,
had an idea that the seeds were visible only at certain mysterious
seasons and to favored individuals who by carrying a quantity of it on
their person, were able, like those who wore the helmet of Pluto or the
ring of Gyges, to walk unseen amidst a crowd. The seed was supposed to
be best seen at a certain hour of the night on which St. John the
Baptist was born.
We have the receipt of fern-seed; we walk invisible,
_Shakespeare's Henry IV. Part I_.
In Beaumont's and Fletcher's _Fair Maid of the Inn_, is the following
allusion to the fern.
--Had you Gyges' ring,
_Or the herb that gives invisibility_.
Ben Jonson makes a similar allusion to it:
No medicine, sir, to go invisible,
_No fern-seed in my pocket_.
Pope puts a branch of spleen-wort, a species of fern, (_Asplenium
trichomanes_) into the hand of a gnome as a protection from evil
influences in the Cave of Spleen.
Safe passed the gnome through this fantastic band
A branch of healing spleen-wort in his hand.
The fern forms a splendid ornament for shadowy nooks and grottoes, or
fragments of ruins, or heaps of stones, or the odd corners of a large
garden or pleasure-ground.
I have had many delightful associations with this plant both at home and
abroad. When I visited the beautiful Island of Penang, Sir William
Norris, then the Recorder of the Island, and who was a most
indefatigable collector of ferns, obligingly presented me with a
specimen of every variety that he had discovered in the hills and
vallies of that small paradise; and I suppose that in no part of the
world could a finer collection of specimens of the fern be made for a
botanist's _herbarium_. Fern leaves will look almost as well ten years
after they are gathered as on the day on which they are transferred from
the dewy hillside to the dry pages of a book.
Jersey and Penang are the two loveliest islands on a small scale that I
have yet seen: the latter is the most romantic of the two and has nobler
trees and a richer soil and a brighter sky--but they are both charming
retreats for the lovers of peace and nature. As I have devoted some
verses to Jersey I must have some also on
THE ISLAND OF PENANG.
I stand upon the mountain's brow--
I drink the cool fresh, mountain breeze--
I see thy little town below,
Thy villas, hedge-rows, fields and trees,
And hail thee with exultant glow,
GEM OF THE ORIENTAL SEAS!
A cloud had settled on my heart--
My frame had borne perpetual pain--
I yearned and panted to depart
From dread Bengala's sultry plain--
Fate smiled,--Disease withholds his dart--
I breathe the breath of life again!
With lightened heart, elastic tread,
Almost with youth's rekindled flame,
I roam where loveliest scenes outspread
Raise thoughts and visions none could name,
Save those on whom the Muses shed
A spell, a dower of deathless fame.
I _feel_, but oh! could ne'er _pourtray_,
Sweet Isle! thy charms of land and wave,
The bowers that own no winter day,
The brooks where timid wild birds lave,
The forest hills where insects gay
Mimic the music of the brave!
I see from this proud airy height
A lovely Lilliput below!
Ships, roads, groves, gardens, mansions white,
And trees in trimly ordered row,
Present almost a toy like sight,
A miniature scene, a fairy show!
But lo! beyond the ocean stream,
That like a sheet of silver lies,
As glorious as a poet's dream
The grand Malayan mountains rise,
And while their sides in sunlight beam
Their dim heads mingle with the skies.
Men laugh at bards who live _in clouds_--
The clouds _beneath_ me gather now,
Or gliding slow in solemn crowds,
Or singly, touched with sunny glow,
Like mystic shapes in snowy shrouds,
Or lucid veils on Beauty's brow.
While all around the wandering eye
Beholds enchantments rich and rare,
Of wood, and water, earth, and sky
A panoramic vision fair,
The dyal breathes his liquid sigh,
And magic floats upon the air!
Oh! lovely and romantic Isle!
How cold the heart thou couldst not please!
Thy very dwellings seem to smile
Like quiet nests mid summer trees!
I leave thy shores--but weep the while--
GEM OF THE ORIENTAL SEAS!
The henna or al hinna (_Lawsonia inermis_) is found in great abundance
in Egypt, India, Persia and Arabia. In Bengal it goes by the name of
_Mindee_. It is much used here for garden hedges. Hindu females rub it
on the palms of their hands, the tips of their fingers and the soles of
their feet to give them a red dye. The same red dye has been observed
upon the nails of Egyptian mummies. In Egypt sprigs of henna are hawked
about the streets for sale with the cry of "_O, odours of Paradise; O,
flowers of the henna!_" Thomas Moore alludes to one of the uses of the
Thus some bring leaves of henna to imbue
The fingers' ends of a bright roseate hue,
So bright, that in the mirror's depth they seem
Like tips of coral branches in the stream.
MOSSES (_musci_) are sometimes confounded with Lichens. True mosses are
green, and lichens are gray. All the mosses are of exquisitely delicate
structure. They are found in every part of the world where the
atmosphere is moist. They have a wonderful tenacity of life and can
often be restored to their original freshness after they have been dried
for years. It was the sight of a small moss in the interior of Africa
that suggested to Mungo Park such consolatory reflections as saved him
from despair. He had been stripped of all he had by banditti.
"In this forlorn and almost helpless condition," he says, "when the
robbers had left me, I sat for some time looking around me with
amazement and terror. Whichever way I turned, nothing appeared but
danger and difficulty. I found myself in the midst of a vast wilderness,
in the depth of the rainy season--naked and alone,--surrounded by
savages. I was five hundred miles from any European settlement. All
these circumstances crowded at once upon my recollection; and I confess
that my spirits began to fail me. I considered my fate as certain, and
that I had no alternative, but to lie down and perish. The influence of
religion, however aided and supported me. I reflected that no human
prudence or foresight could possibly have averted my present sufferings.
I was indeed a stranger in a strange land, yet I was still under the eye
of that Providence who has condescended to call himself the stranger's
friend. At this moment, painful as my reflections were, the
extraordinary beauty of a small Moss irresistibly caught my eye; and
though the whole plant was not larger than the top of one of my fingers,
I could not contemplate the delicate conformation of its roots, leaves,
and fruit, without admiration. Can that Being (thought I) who planted,
watered, and brought to perfection, in this obscure part of the world, a
thing which appears of so small importance, look with unconcern upon the
situation and sufferings of creatures formed after his own image? Surely
not.--Reflections like these would not allow me to despair. I started
up; and disregarding both, hunger and fatigue, traveled forward, assured
that relief was at hand; and I was not disappointed."
On this Queen of Aquatic Plants the language of admiration has been
exhausted. It was discovered in the first year of the present century by
the botanist Haenke who was sent by the Spanish Government to
investigate the vegetable productions of Peru. When in a canoe on the
Rio Mamore, one of the great tributaries of the river Amazon, he came
suddenly upon the noblest and largest flower that he had ever seen. He
fell on his knees in a transport of admiration. It was the plant now
known as the Victoria Regia, or American Water-lily.
It was not till February 1849, that Dr. Hugh Rodie and Mr. Lachie of
Demerara forwarded seeds of the plant to Sir W.T. Hooker in vials of
pure water. They were sown in earth, in pots immersed in water, and
enclosed in a glass case. They vegetated rapidly. The plants first came
to perfection at Chatsworth the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, and
subsequently at the Royal gardens at Kew.
Early in November of the same year, (1849,) the leaves of the plant at
Chatsworth were 4 feet 8 inches in diameter. A child weighing forty two
pounds was placed upon one of the leaves which bore the weight well. The
largest leaf of the plant by the middle of the next month was five feet
in diameter with a turned up edge of from two to four inches. It then
bore up a person of 11 stone weight. The flat leaf of the Victoria Regia
as it floats on the surface of the water, resembles in point of form the
brass high edged platter in which Hindus eat their rice.
The flowers in the middle of May 1850 measured one foot one inch in
diameter. The rapidity of the growth of this plant is one of its most
remarkable characteristics, its leaves often expanding eight inches in
diameter daily, and Mr. John Fisk Allen, who has published in America an
admirably illustrated work upon the subject, tells us that instances
under his own observation have occurred of the leaves increasing at the
rate of half an inch hourly.
Not only is there an extraordinary variety in the colours of the several
specimens of this flower, but a singularly rapid succession of changes
of hue in the same individual flower as it progresses from bud to
This vegetable wonder was introduced into North America in 1851. It
grows to a larger size there than in England. Some of the leaves of the
plant cultivated in North America measure seventy-two inches in
This plant has been proved to be perennial. It grows best in from 4 to 6
feet of water. Each plant generally sends but four or five leaves to the
In addition to the other attractions of this noble Water Lily, is the
exquisite character of its perfume, which strongly resembles that of a
fresh pineapple just cut open.
The Victoria Regia in the Calcutta Botanic Garden has from some cause or
other not flourished so well as it was expected to do. The largest leaf
is not more than four feet and three quarters in diameter. But there can
be little doubt that when the habits of the plant are better understood
it will be brought to great perfection in this country. I strongly
recommend my native friends to decorate their tanks with this the most
glorious of aquatic plants.
THE FLY-ORCHIS--THE BEE-ORCHIS.
Of these strange freaks of nature many strange stories are told. I
cannot repeat them all. I shall content myself with quoting the
following passage from D'Israeli's _Curiosities of Literature_:--
"There is preserved in the British Museum, a black stone, on which
nature has sketched a resemblance of the portrait of Chaucer. Stones of
this kind, possessing a sufficient degree of resemblance, are rare; but
art appears not to have been used. Even in plants, we find this sort of
resemblance. There is a species of the orchis found in the mountainous
parts of Lincolnshire, Kent, &c. Nature has formed a bee, apparently
feeding on the breast of the flower, with so much exactness, that it is
impossible at a very small distance to distinguish the imposition. Hence
the plant derives its name, and is called, the _Bee-flower_. Langhorne
elegantly notices its appearance.
See on that floweret's velvet breast,
How close the busy vagrant lies?
His thin-wrought plume, his downy breast,
Th' ambrosial gold that swells his thighs.
Perhaps his fragrant load may bind
His limbs;--we'll set the captive free--
I sought the living bee to find,
And found the picture of a bee,'
The late Mr. James of Exeter wrote to me on this subject: 'This orchis
is common near our sea-coasts; but instead of being exactly like a BEE,
_it is not like it at all_. It has a general resemblance to a _fly_, and
by the help of imagination, may be supposed to be a fly pitched upon the
flower. The mandrake very frequently has a forked root, which may be
fancied to resemble thighs and legs. I have seen it helped out with
nails on the toes.'
An ingenious botanist, a stranger to me, after reading this article, was
so kind as to send me specimens of the _fly_ orchis, _ophrys muscifera_,
and of the _bee_ orchis, _ophrys apifera_. Their resemblance to these
insects when in full flower is the most perfect conceivable; they are
distinct plants. The poetical eye of Langhorne was equally correct and
fanciful; and that too of Jackson, who differed so positively. Many
controversies have been carried on, from a want of a little more
knowledge; like that of the BEE _orchis_ and the FLY _orchis_; both
parties prove to be right."
The Fuchsia is decidedly the most _graceful_ flower in the world. It
unfortunately wants fragrance or it would be the _beau ideal_ of a
favorite of Flora. There is a story about its first introduction into
England which is worth reprinting here:
'Old Mr. Lee, a nurseryman and gardener, near London, well known fifty
or sixty years ago, was one day showing his variegated treasures to a
friend, who suddenly turned to him, and declared, 'Well, you have not in
your collection a prettier flower than I saw this morning at
Wapping!'--'No! and pray what was this phoenix like?' 'Why, the plant
was elegant, and the flowers hung in rows like tassels from the pendant
branches; their colour the richest crimson; in the centre a fold of deep
purple,' and so forth. Particular directions being demanded and given,
Mr. Lee posted off to Wapping, where he at once perceived that the plant
was new in this part of the world. He saw and admired. Entering the
house, he said, 'My good woman, that is a nice plant. I should like to
buy it.'--'I could not sell it for any money, for it was brought me from
the West Indies by my husband, who has now left again, and I must keep
it for his sake.'--'But I must have it!'--'No sir!'--'Here,' emptying
his pockets; 'here are gold, silver, copper.' (His stock was something
more than eight guineas.)--'Well a-day! but this is a power of money,
sure and sure.'--''Tis yours, and the plant is mine; and, my good dame,
you shall have one of the first young ones I rear, to keep for your
husband's sake,'--'Alack, alack!'--'You shall.' A coach was called, in
which was safely deposited our florist and his seemingly dear purchase.
His first work was to pull off and utterly destroy every vestige of
blossom and bud. The plant was divided into cuttings, which were forced
in bark beds and hotbeds; were redivided and subdivided. Every effort
was used to multiply it. By the commencement of the next flowering
season, Mr. Lee was the delighted possessor of 300 Fuchsia plants, all
giving promise of blossom. The two which opened first were removed into
his show-house. A lady came:--'Why, Mr. Lee, my dear Mr. Lee, where did
you get this charming flower?'--'Hem! 'tis a new thing, my lady; pretty,
is it not?'--'Pretty! 'tis lovely. Its price?'--'A guinea: thank your
ladyship;' and one of the plants stood proudly in her ladyship's
boudoir. 'My dear Charlotte, where did you get?' &c.--'Oh! 'tis a new
thing; I saw it at old Lee's; pretty, is it not?'--'Pretty! 'tis
beautiful! Its price!'--'A guinea; there was another left.' The
visitor's horses smoked off to the suburb; a third flowering plant stood
on the spot whence the first had been taken. The second guinea was paid,
and the second chosen Fuchsia adorned the drawing-room of her second
ladyship The scene was repeated, as new-comers saw and were attracted by
the beauty of the plant. New chariots flew to the gates of old Lee's
nursery-ground. Two Fuchsias, young, graceful and bursting into healthy
flower, were constantly seen on the same spot in his repository. He
neglected not to gladden the faithful sailor's wife by the promised
gift; but, ere the flower season closed, 300 golden guineas clinked in
his purse, the produce of the single shrub of the widow of Wapping; the
reward of the taste, decision, skill, and perseverance of old Mr. Lee.'
Whether this story about the fuchsia, be only partly fact and partly
fiction I shall not pretend to determine; but the best authorities
acknowledge that Mr. Lee, one of the founders of the Hammersmith
Nursery, was the first to make the plant generally known in England and
that he for some time got a guinea for each of the cuttings. The fuchsia
is a native of Mexico and Chili. I believe that most of the plants of
this genus introduced into India have flourished for a brief period and
then sickened and died.
The poets of England have not yet sung the Fuschia's praise. Here are
three stanzas written for a gentleman who had been presented, by the
lady of his love with a superb plant of this kind.
A deed of grace--a graceful gift--and graceful too the giver!
Like ear-rings on thine own fair head, these long buds hang and quiver:
Each tremulous taper branch is thrilled--flutter the wing-like leaves--
For thus to part from thee, sweet maid, the floral spirit grieves!
Rude gods in brass or gold enchant an untaught devotee--
Fair marble shapes, rich paintings old, are Art's idolatry;
But nought e'er charmed a human breast like this small tremulous flower,
Minute and delicate work divine of world-creative power!
This flower's the Queen of all earth's flowers, and loveliest things appear
Linked by some secret sympathy, in this mysterious sphere;
The giver and the gift seem one, and thou thyself art nigh
When this glory of the garden greets thy lover's raptured eye.
"Do you know the proper name of this flower?" writes Jeremy Bentham to a
lady-friend, "and the signification of its name? Fuchsia from Fuchs, a
There's rosemary--that's for remembrance:
Pray you, love, remember.
There's rosemarie; the Arabians Justifie
(Physitions of exceeding perfect skill)
It comforteth the brain and memory.
Bacon speaks of heaths of ROSEMARY (_Rosmarinus_) that "will smell
a great way in the sea; perhaps twenty miles." This reminds us of
So lovely seemed
That landscape, and of pure, now purer air,
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair. Now gentle gales
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea north east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest, with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league
Cheered with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles.
Rosemary used to be carried at funerals, and worn as wedding favors.
_Lewis_ Pray take a piece of Rosemary
_Miramont_ I'll wear it,
But for the lady's sake, and none of your's!
_Beaumont and Fletcher's "Elder Brother."_
Rosemary, says Malone, being supposed to strengthen the memory, was the
emblem of fidelity in lovers. So in _A Handfull of Pleasant Delites,
containing Sundrie New Sonets, 16mo_. 1854:
Rosemary is for remembrance
Between us daie and night,
Wishing that I might alwaies have
You present in my sight.
The poem in which these lines are found, is entitled, '_A Nosegay
alwaies sweet for Lovers to send for Tokens of Love_.'
Roger Hochet in his sermon entitled _A Marriage Present_ (1607) thus
speaks of the Rosemary;--"It overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden,
boasting man's rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie,
and is very medicinable for the head. Another propertie of the rosemary
is, it affects the heart. Let this rosemarinus, this flower of men,
ensigne of your wisdom, love, and loyaltie, be carried not only in your
hands, but in your hearts and heads."
"Hungary water" is made up chiefly from the oil distilled from this
* * * * *
I should talk on a little longer about other shrubs, herbs, and flowers,
(particularly of flowers) such as the "pink-eyed Pimpernel" (the poor
man's weather glass) and the fragrant Violet, ('the modest grace of the
vernal year,') the scarlet crested Geranium with its crimpled leaves,
and the yellow and purple Amaranth, powdered with gold,
A flower which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life
Began to bloom,
and the crisp and well-varnished Holly with "its rutilant berries," and
the white Lily, (the vestal Lady of the Vale,--"the flower of virgin
light") and the luscious Honeysuckle, and the chaste Snowdrop,
Venturous harbinger of spring
And pensive monitor of fleeting years,
and the sweet Heliotrope and the gay and elegant Nasturtium, and a great
many other "bonnie gems" upon the breast of our dear mother earth,--but
this gossipping book has already extended to so unconscionable a size
that I must quicken my progress towards a conclusion.
I am indebted to the kindness of Babu Kasiprasad Ghosh, the first Hindu
gentlemen who ever published a volume of poems in the English
language for the following interesting list of Indian flowers used
in Hindu ceremonies. Many copies of the poems of Kasiprasad Ghosh, were
sent to the English public critics, several of whom spoke of the
author's talents with commendation. The late Miss Emma Roberts wrote a
brief biography of him for one of the London annuals, so that there must
be many of my readers at home who will not on this occasion hear of his
name for the first time.
A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF INDIAN FLOWERS, COMMONLY USED IN HINDU
A'KUNDA (_Calotropis Gigantea_).--A pretty purple coloured, and slightly
scented flower, having a sweet and agreeable smell. It is called _Arca_
in Sanscrit, and has two varieties, both of which are held to be sacred
to Shiva. It forms one of the five darts with which the Indian God of
Love is supposed to pierce the hearts of young mortals. Sir William
Jones refers to it in his Hymn to Kama Deva. It possesses medicinal
A'PARA'JITA (_Clitoria ternatea_).--A conically shaped flower, the upper
part of which is tinged with blue and the lower part is white. Some are
wholly white. It is held to be sacred to Durga.
ASOCA. (_Jonesia Asoca_).--A small yellow flower, which blooms in large
clusters in the month of April and gives a most beautiful appearance to
the tree. It is eaten by young females as a medicine. It smells like the
A'TASHI.--A small yellowish or brown coloured flower without any smell.
It is supposed to be sacred to Shiva, and is very often alluded to by
the Indian poets. It resembles the flower of the flax or Linum
BAKA.--A kidney shaped flower, having several varieties, all of which
are held to be sacred to Vishnu, and are in consequence used in his
worship. It is supposed to possess medicinal virtues and is used by the
BAKU'LA (_Mimusops Etengi_).--A very small, yellowish, and fragrant
flower. It is used in making garlands and other female ornaments.
Krishna is said to have fascinated the milkmaids of Brindabun by playing
on his celebrated flute under a _Baku'la_ tree on the banks of the
Jumna, which is, therefore, invariably alluded to in all the Sanscrit
and vernacular poems relating to his amours with those young women.
BA'KASHA (_Justicia Adhatoda_).--A white flower, having a slight smell.
It is used in certain native medicines.
BELA (_Jasminum Zambac_).--A fragrant small white flower, in common use
among native females, who make garlands of it to wear in their braids of
hair. A kind of _uttar_ is extracted from this flower, which is much
esteemed by natives. It is supposed to form one of the darts of Kama
Deva or the God of Love. European Botanists seem to have confounded this
flower with the Monika, which they also call the Jasminum Zambac.
BHU'MI CHAMPAKA.--An oblong variegated flower, which shoots out from the
ground at the approach of spring. It has a slight smell, and is
considered to possess medicinal properties. The great peculiarity of
this flower is that it blooms when there is not apparently the slightest
trace of the existence of the shrub above ground. When the flower dies
away, the leaves make their appearance.
CHAMPA' (_Michelia Champaka_).--A tulip shaped yellow flower possessing
a very strong smell. It forms one of the darts of Kama Deva, the
Indian Cupid. It is particularly sacred to Krishna.
CHUNDRA MALLIKA' (_Chrysanthemum Indiana_).--A pretty round yellow
flower which blooms in winter. The plant is used in making hedges in
gardens and presents a beautiful appearance in the cold weather when the
DHASTU'RA (_Datura Fastuosa_).--A large tulip shaped white flower,
sacred to Mahadeva, the third Godhead of the Hindu Trinity. The seeds of
this flower have narcotic properties.
DRONA.--A white flower with a very slight smell.
DOPATI (_Impatiens Balsamina_).--A small flower having a slight smell.
There are several varieties of this flower. Some are red and some white,
while others are both white and red.
GA'NDA' (_Tagetes erecta_).--A handsome yellow flower, which sometimes
grows very large. It is commonly used in making garlands, with which the
natives decorate their idols, and the Europeans in India their churches
and gates on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
GANDHA RA'J (_Gardenia Florida_).--A strongly scented white flower,
which blooms at night.
GOLANCHA (_Menispermum Glabrum_).--A white flower. The plant is already
well known to Europeans as a febrifuge.
JAVA' (_Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis_).--A large blood coloured flower held to
be especially sacred to Kali. There are two species of it, viz. the
ordinary Java commonly seen in our gardens and parterres, and the
_Pancha Mukhi_, which, as its name imports, has five compartments and is
the largest of the two.
JAYANTI (_Aeschynomene Sesban_).--A small yellowish flower, held to be
sacred to Shiva.
JHA'NTI.--A small white flower possessing medicinal properties. The
leaves of the plants are used in curing certain ulcers.
JA'NTI (_Jasminum Grandiflorum_).--Also a small white flower having a
sweet smell. The _uttar_ called _Chumeli_ is extracted from it.
JUYIN (_Jasminum Auriculatum_).--The Indian Jasmine. It is a very small
white flower remarkable for its sweetness. It is also used in making a
species of _uttar_ which is highly prized by the natives, as also in
forming a great variety of imitation female ornaments.
KADAMBA (_Nauclea Cadamba_).--A ball shaped yellow flower held to be
particularly sacred to Krishna, many of whose gambols with the milkmaids
of Brindabun are said to have been performed under the Kadamba tree,
which is in consequence very frequently alluded to in the vernacular
poems relating to his loves with those celebrated beauties.
KINSUKA (_Butea Frondosa_).--A handsome but scentless white flower.
KANAKA CHAMPA (_Pterospermum Acerifolium_).--A yellowish flower which
hangs down in form of a tassel. It has a strong smell, which is
perceived at a great distance when it is on the tree, but the moment it
is plucked off, it begins to lose its fragrance.
KANCHANA (_Bauhinia Variegata_).--There are several varieties of this
flower. Some are white, some are purple, while others are red. It gives
a handsome appearance to the tree when the latter is in full blossom.
KUNDA (_Jasminum pulescens_).--A very pretty white flower. Indian poets
frequently compare a set of handsome teeth, to this flower. It is held
to be especially sacred to Vishnu.
KARABIRA (_Nerium Odosum_).--There are two species of this flower, viz.
the white and red, both of which are sacred to Shiva.
KAMINI (_Murraya Exotica_).--A pretty small white flower having a strong
smell. It blooms at night and is very delicate to the touch. The
_kamini_ tree is frequently used as a garden hedge.
KRISHNA CHURA (_Poinciana Pulcherrima_).--A pretty small flower, which,
as its name imports resembles the head ornament of Krishna. When the
Krishna Chura tree is in full blossom, it has a very handsome
KRISHNA KELI (_Mirabilis Jalapa_.)--A small tulip shaped yellow
flower. The bulb of the plant has medicinal properties and is used by
the natives as a poultice.
KUMADA (_Nymphaea Esculenta_)--A white flower, resembling the lotus, but
blooming at night, whence the Indian poets suppose that it is in love
with Chandra or the Moon, as the lotus is imagined by them to be in love
with the Sun.
LAVANGA LATA' (_Limonia Scandens_.)--A very small red flower growing
upon a creeper, which has been celebrated by Jaya Deva in his famous
work called the _Gita Govinda_. This creeper is used in native gardens
MALLIKA' (_Jasminum Zambac_.)--A white flower resembling the _Bela_. It
has a very sweet smell and is used by native females to make ornaments.
It is frequently alluded to by Indian poets.
MUCHAKUNDA (_Pterospermum Suberifolia_).--A strongly scented flower,
which grows in clusters and is of a brown colour.
MA'LATI (_Echites Caryophyllata_.)--The flower of a creeper which is
commonly used in native gardens. It has a slight smell and is of a white
MA'DHAVI (_Gaertnera Racemosa_.)--The flower of another creeper which is
also to be seen in native gardens. It is likewise of a white colour.
NA'GESWARA (_Mesua Ferrua_.)--A white flower with yellow filaments,
which are said to possess medicinal properties and are used by the
native physicians. It has a very sweet smell and is supposed by Indian
poets to form one of the darts of Kama Deva. See Sir William Jones's
Hymn to that deity.
PADMA (_Nelumbium Speciosum_.)--The Indian lotus, which is held to be
sacred to Vishnu, Brama, Mahadava, Durga, Lakshami and Saraswati as well
as all the higher orders of Indian deities. It is a very elegant flower
and is highly esteemed by the natives, in consequence of which the
Indian poets frequently allude to it in their writings.
PA'RIJATA (_Buchanania Latifolia_.)--A handsome white flower, with a
slight smell. In native poetry, it furnishes a simile for pretty eyes,
and is held to be sacred to Vishnu.
PAREGATA (_Erythrina Fulgens_.)--A flower which is supposed to bloom in
the garden of Indra in heaven, and forms the subject of an interesting
episode in the _Puranas_, in which the two wives of Krisna, (Rukmini and
Satyabhama) are said to have quarrelled for the exclusive possession of
this flower, which their husband had stolen from the celestial garden
referred to. It is supposed to be identical with the flower of the
RAJANI GANDHA (_Polianthus Tuberosa_.)--A white tulip-shaped flower
which blooms at night, from which circumstance it is called "the Rajani
Gandha, (or night-fragrance giver)." It is the Indian tuberose.
RANGANA.--A small and very pretty red flower which is used by native
females in ornamenting their betels.
SEONTI. _Rosa Glandulefera_. A white flower resembling the rose in size
and appearance. It has a sweet smell.
SEPHA'LIKA (_Nyctanthes Arbor-tristis_.)--A very pretty and delicate
flower which blooms at night, and drops down shortly after. It has a
sweet smell and is held to be sacred to Shiva. The juice of the leaves
of the Sephalika tree are used in curing both remittant and intermittent
SURYJA MUKHI (_Helianthus Annuus_).--A large and very handsome yellow
flower, which is said to turn itself to the Sun, as he goes from East to
West, whence it has derived its name.
SURYJA MANI (_Hibiscus Phoeniceus_).--A small red flower.
GOLAKA CHAMPA.--A large beautiful white tulip-shaped flower having a
sweet smell. It is externally white but internally orange-colored.
TAGUR (_Tabernoemontana Coronaria_).--A white flower having a slight
TARU LATA.--A beautiful creeper with small red flowers. It is used in
native gardens for making hedges.
* * * * *
Pliny in his Natural History alludes to the marks of time exhibited in
the regular opening and closing of flowers. Linnaeus enumerates
forty-six flowers that might be used for the construction of a floral
time-piece. This great Swedish botanist invented a Floral horologe, "whose
wheels were the sun and earth and whose index-figures were flowers."
Perhaps his invention, however, was not wholly original. Andrew Marvell
in his "_Thoughts in a Garden_" mentions a sort of floral dial:--
How well the skilful gardener drew
Of flowers and herbs this dial new!
Where, from above, the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run:
And, as it works, th'industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we:
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned, but with herbs and flowers?
Milton's notation of time--"_at shut of evening flowers_," has a
beautiful simplicity, and though Shakespeare does not seem to have
marked his time on a floral clock, yet, like all true poets, he has made
very free use of other appearances of nature to indicate the
commencement and the close of day.
The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch--
Than we will ship him hence.
Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near
And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
But look! The morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastern hill:--
Break we our watch up.
_Light thickens_, and the crow
Makes wing to the rooky wood.
Such picturesque notations of time as these, are in the works of
Shakespeare, as thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in
Valombrosa. In one of his Sonnets he thus counts the years of human life
by the succession of the seasons.
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride;
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen;
Three April's perfumes in three hot Junes burned
Since first I saw you fresh which yet are green.
Grainger, a prosaic verse-writer who once commenced a paragraph of a
poem with "Now, Muse, let's sing of rats!" called upon the slave drivers
in the West Indies to time their imposition of cruel tasks by the
opening and closing of flowers.
Till morning dawn and Lucifer withdraw
His beamy chariot, let not the loud bell
Call forth thy negroes from their rushy couch:
And ere the sun with mid-day fervor glow,
When every broom-bush opes her yellow flower,
Let thy black laborers from their toil desist:
Nor till the broom her every petal lock,
Let the loud bell recal them to the hoe,
But when the jalap her bright tint displays,
When the solanum fills her cup with dew,
And crickets, snakes and lizards gin their coil,
Let them find shelter in their cane-thatched huts.
I shall here give (_from Loudon's Encyclopaedia of Gardening_) the form
of a flower dial. It may be interesting to many of my readers:--
'Twas a lovely thought to mark the hours
As they floated in light away
By the opening and the folding flowers
That laugh to the summer day.
A FLOWER DIAL.
TIME OF OPENING.
 h. m.
YELLOW GOAT'S BEARD T.P. 3 5
LATE FLOWERING DANDELION Leon.S. 4 0
BRISTLY HELMINTHIA H.B. 4 5
ALPINE BORKHAUSIA B.A. 4 5
WILD SUCCORY C.I. 4 5
NAKED STALKED POPPY P.N. 5 0
COPPER COLOURED DAY LILY H.F. 5 0
SMOOTH SOW THISTLE S.L. 5 0
ALPINE AGATHYRSUS Ag.A. 5 0
SMALL BIND WEED Con.A. 5 6
COMMON NIPPLE WORT L.C. 5 6
COMMON DANDELION L.T. 5 6
SPORTED ACHYROPHORUS A.M. 6 7
WHITE WATER LILY N.A. 7 0
GARDEN LETTUCE Lec.S. 7 0
AFRICAN MARIGOLD T.E. 7 0
COMMON PIMPERNEL A.A. 7 8
MOUSE-EAR HAWKWEED H.P. 8 0
PROLIFEROUS PINK D.P. 8 0
FIELD MARIGOLD Cal.A. 9 0
PURPLE SANDWORT A.P. 9 10
SMALL PURSLANE P.O. 9 10
CREEPING MALLOW M.C. 9 10
CHICKWEED S.M. 9 10
TIME OF CLOSING.
HELMINTHIA ECHIOIDES B.H. 12 0
AGATHYRSUS ALPINUS A.B. 12 0
BORKHAUSIA ALPINA A.B. 12 0
LEONTODON SEROTINUS L.D. 12 0
MALVA CAROLINIANA C.M. 12 1
DAINTHUS PROLIFER P.P. 1 0
HIERACIUM PILOSELLA M.H. 0 2
ANAGALLIS ARVENSIS S.P. 2 3
ARENARIA PURPUREA P.S. 2 4
CALENDULA ARVENSIS F.M. 3 0
TACETES ERECTA A.M. 3 3
CONVOLVULUS ARVENSIS S.B. 4 0
ACHYROPHORUS MACULATUS S.A. 4 5
NYMPHAEA ALBA W.W.B. 5 0
PAPAVER NUDICAULE N.P. 7 0
HEMEROCALLIS FULVA C.D.L. 7 0
CICHORIUM INTYBUS W.S. 8 9
TRAGOPOGON PRATENSIS Y.G.B. 9 10
STELLARIA MEDIA C. 9 10
LAPSANA COMMUNIS C.N. 10 0
LACTUCA SATIVA G.L. 10 0
SONCHUS LAEVIS S.T. 11 10
PORTULACA OLERACEA S.P. 11 12
Of course it will be necessary to adjust the _Horologium Florae_ (or
Flower clock) to the nature of the climate. Flowers expand at a later
hour in a cold climate than in a warm one. "A flower," says Loudon,
"that opens at six o'clock in the morning at Senegal, will not open in
France or England till eight or nine, nor in Sweden till ten. A flower
that opens at ten o'clock at Senegal will not open in France or England
till noon or later, and in Sweden it will not open at all. And a flower
that does not open till noon or later at Senegal will not open at all in
France or England. This seems as if heat or its absence were also (as
well as light) an agent in the opening and shutting of flowers; though
the opening of such as blow only in the night cannot be attributed to
either light or heat."
The seasons may be marked in a similar manner by their floral
representatives. Mary Howitt quotes as a motto to her poem on _Holy
Flowers_ the following example of religious devotion timed by flowers:--
"Mindful of the pious festivals which our church prescribes," (says a
Franciscan Friar) "I have sought to make these charming objects of
floral nature, the _time-pieces of my religious calendar_, and the
mementos of the hastening period of my mortality. Thus I can light the
taper to our Virgin Mother on the blowing of the white snow-drop which
opens its floweret at the time of Candlemas; the lady's smock and the
daffodil, remind me of the Annunciation; the blue harebell, of the
Festival of St George; the ranunculus, of the Invention of the Cross;
the scarlet lychnis, of St. John the Baptist's day; the white lily, of
the Visitation of our Lady, and the Virgin's bower, of her Assumption;
and Michaelmas, Martinmas, Holyrood, and Christmas, have all their
appropriate monitors. I learn the time of day from the shutting of the
blossoms of the Star of Jerusalem and the Dandelion, and the hour of the
night by the stars."
Some flowers afford a certain means of determining the state of the
atmosphere. If I understand Mr. Tyas rightly he attributes the following
remarks to Hartley Coleridge.--
"Many species of flowers are admirable barometers. Most of the
bulbous-rooted flowers contract, or close their petals entirely on the
approach of rain. The African marigold indicates rain, if the corolla is
closed after seven or eight in the morning. The common bind-weed closes
its flowers on the approach of rain; but the anagallis arvensis, or scarlet
pimpernel, is the most sure in its indications as the petals constantly
close on the least humidity of the atmosphere. Barley is also singularly
affected by the moisture or dryness of the air. The awns are furnished
with stiff points, all turning towards one end, which extend when moist,
and shorten when dry. The points, too, prevent their receding, so that
they are drawn up or forward; as moisture is returned, they advance and
so on; indeed they may be actually seen to travel forwards. The capsules
of the geranium furnish admirable barometers. Fasten the beard, when
fully ripe, upon a stand, and it will twist itself, or untwist,
according as the air is moist or dry. The flowers of the chick-weed,
convolvulus, and oxalis, or wood sorrel, close their petals on the
approach of rain."
The famous German writer, Jean Paul Richter, describes what he calls _a
A HUMAN CLOCK.
"I believe" says Richter "the flower clock of Linnaeus, in Upsal
(_Horologium Florae_) whose wheels are the sun and earth, and whose
index-figures are flowers, of which one always awakens and opens later
than another, was what secretly suggested my conception of the human
I formerly occupied two chambers in Scheeraw, in the middle of the
market place: from the front room I overlooked the whole market-place
and the royal buildings and from the back one, the botanical garden.
Whoever now dwells in these two rooms possesses an excellent harmony,
arranged to his hand, between the flower clock in the garden and the
human clock in the marketplace. At three o'clock in the morning, the
yellow meadow goats-beard opens; and brides awake, and the stable-boy
begins to rattle and feed the horses beneath the lodger. At four o'clock
the little hawk weed awakes, choristers going to the Cathedral who are
clocks with chimes, and the bakers. At five, kitchen maids, dairy maids,
and butter-cups awake. At six, the sow-thistle and cooks. At seven
o'clock many of the Ladies' maids are awake in the Palace, the Chicory
in my botanical garden, and some tradesmen. At eight o'clock all the
colleges awake and the little mouse-ear. At nine o'clock, the female
nobility already begin to stir; the marigold, and even many young
ladies, who have come from the country on a visit, begin to look out of
their windows. Between ten and eleven o'clock the Court Ladies and the
whole staff of Lords of the Bed-chamber, the green colewort and the
Alpine dandelion, and the reader of the Princess rouse themselves out of
their morning sleep; and the whole Palace, considering that the morning
sun gleams so brightly to-day from the lofty sky through the coloured
silk curtains, curtails a little of its slumber.
At twelve o'clock, the Prince: at one, his wife and the carnation have
their eyes open in their flower vase. What awakes late in the afternoon
at four o'clock is only the red-hawkweed, and the night watchman as
cuckoo-clock, and these two only tell the time as evening-clocks and
From the eyes of the unfortunate man, who like the jalap plant
(Mirabilia jalapa), first opens them at five o'clock, we will turn our
own in pity aside. It is a rich man who only exchanges the fever fancies
of being pinched with hot pincers for waking pains.
I could never know when it was two o'clock, because at that time,
together with a thousand other stout gentlemen and the yellow mouse-ear,
I always fell asleep; but at three o'clock in the afternoon, and at
three in the morning, I awoke as regularly as though I was a repeater.
Thus we mortals may be a flower-clock for higher beings, when our
flower-leaves close upon our last bed; or sand clocks, when the sand of
our life is so run down that it is renewed in the other world; or
picture-clocks because, when our death-bell here below strikes and
rings, our image steps forth, from its case into the next world.
On each event of the kind, when seventy years of human life have passed
away, they may perhaps say, what! another hour already gone! how the
time flies!"--_From Balfour's Phyto-Theology_.
Some of the natives of India who possess extensive estates might think
it worth their while to plant a LABYRINTH for the amusement of their
friends. I therefore give a plan of one from London's _Arboretum et
Fruticetum Britannicum_. It would not be advisable to occupy much of a
limited estate in a toy of this nature; but where the ground required
for it can be easily spared or would otherwise be wasted, there could be
no objection to adding this sort of amusement to the very many others
that may be included in a pleasure ground. The plan here given,
resembles the labyrinth at Hampton Court. The hedges should be a little
above a man's height and the paths should be just wide enough for two
persons abreast. The ground should be kept scrupulously clean and well
rolled and the hedges well trimmed, or in this country the labyrinth
would soon be damp and unwholesome, especially in the rains. To prevent
its affording a place of refuge and concealment for snakes and other
reptiles, the gardener should cut off all young shoots and leaves within
half a foot of the ground. The centre building should be a tasteful
summer-house, in which people might read or smoke or take refreshments.
To make the labyrinth still more intricate Mr. Loudon suggests that
stop-hedges might be introduced across the path, at different places, as
indicated in the figure by dotted lines.
[Illustration of A GARDEN LABYRINTH with a scale in feet.]
Of strictly Oriental trees and shrubs and flowers, perhaps the majority
of Anglo Indians think with much less enthusiasm than of the common
weeds of England. The remembrance of the simplest wild flower of their
native fields will make them look with perfect indifference on the
decorations of an Indian Garden. This is in no degree surprizing. Yet
nature is lovely in all lands.
Indian scenery has not been so much the subject of description in either
prose or verse as it deserves, but some two or three of our Anglo-Indian
authors have touched upon it. Here is a pleasant and truthful passage
from an article entitled "_A Morning Walk in India_," written by the
late Mr. Lawson, the Missionary, a truly good and a highly gifted man:--
"The rounded clumps that afford the deepest shade, are formed by the
mangoe, the banian, and the cotton trees. At the verge of this deep-green
forest are to be seen the long and slender hosts of the betle and
cocoanut trees; and the grey bark of their trunks, as they catch the
light of the morning, is in clear relief from the richness of the
back-ground. These as they wave their feathery tops, add much to the
picturesque interest of the straw-built hovels beneath them, which are
variegated with every tinge to be found amongst the browns and yellows,
according to the respective periods of their construction. Some of them
are enveloped in blue smoke, which oozes through every interstice of the
thatch, and spreads itself, like a cloud hovering over these frail
habitations, or moves slowly along, like a strata of vapour not far from
the ground, as though too heavy to ascend, and loses itself in the thin
air, so inspiring to all who have courage to leave their beds and enjoy
it. The champa tree forms a beautiful object in this jungle. It may be
recognized immediately from the surrounding scenery. It has always been
a favourite with me. I suppose most persons, at times, have been
unaccountably attracted by an object comparatively trifling in itself.
There are also particular seasons, when the mind is susceptible of
peculiar impressions, and the moments of happy, careless youth, rush
upon the imagination with a thousand tender feelings. There are few that
do not recollect with what pleasure they have grasped a bunch of wild
flowers, when, in the days of their childhood, the languor of a
lingering fever has prevented them for some weary months from enjoying
that chief of all the pleasures of a robust English boy, a ramble
through the fields, where every tree, and bush, and hillock, and
blossom, are endeared to him, because, next to a mother's caresses, they
were the first things in the world upon which he opened his eyes, and,
doubtless, the first which gave him those indescribable feelings of
fairy pleasure, which even in his dreams were excited; while the
coloured clouds of heaven, the golden sunshine of a landscape, the fresh
nosegay of dog-roses and early daisies, and the sounds of busy
whispering trees and tinkling brooks presented to the sleeping child all
the pure pleasure of his waking moments. And who is there here that does
not sometimes recal some of those feelings which were his solace perhaps
thirty years ago? Should I be wrong, were I to say that even, at his
desk, amid all the excitements and anxieties of commercial pursuits, the
weary Calcutta merchant has been lulled into a sort of pensive
reminiscence of the past, and, with his pen placed between his lips and
his fevered forehead leaning upon his hand, has felt his heart bound at
some vivid picture rising upon his imagination. The forms of a fond
mother, and an almost angel-looking sister, have been so strongly
conjured up with the scenes of his boyish days, that the pen has been
unceremoniously dashed to the ground, and 'I will go home' was the sigh
that heaved from a bosom full of kindness and English feeling; while, as
the dream vanished, plain truth told its tale, and the man of commerce
is still to be seen at his desk, pale, and getting into years and
perhaps less desirous than ever of winding up his concern. No wonder!
because the dearest ties of his heart have been broken, and those who
were the charm of home have gone down to the cold grave, the home of
all. Why then should he revisit his native place? What is the cottage of
his birth to him? What charms has the village now for the gentleman just
arrived from India? Every well remembered object of nature, seen after a
lapse of twenty years, would only serve to renew a host of buried,
painful feelings. Every visit to the house of a surviving neighbour
would but bring to mind some melancholy incident; for into what house
could he enter, to idle away an hour, without seeing some wreck of his
own family, such as a venerable clock, once so loved for the painted
moon that waxed and waned to the astonishment of the gazer, or some
favorite ancient chair, edged so nobly with rows of brass nails,
--but perforated sore, and dull'd in holes
By worms voracious, eating through and through.
These are little things, but they are objects which will live in his
memory to the latest day of his life, and with which are associated in
his mind the dearest feelings and thoughts of his happiest hours."