Arctic regions to Florida and westward.
Flowers: solitary; terminal; growing on scapes. Calyx; of five green sepals extending into ears at the base. Corolla: of five unequal petals; the lower one with a sac, or spur. Stamens: five, short, united about the pistil. Pistil: one, short, with a one-sided stigma. Leaves: from the base; roundish; cordate. Scape: slender; leafless.
The violet needs little description, as somewhere in every heart it has its own resting place. Over the ragged urchin and the mighty Emperor it casts its subtle enchantment; for have they both not been children ? It is in childhood that the violet makes its claim to the heart; and to be the first to discover that it has peeped through the crust of winter and to shout in triumph of superior knowledge that the violets have come, is one of the keenest delights.
In France the popular legend concerning the violet is that one day, shortly before going into exile, Napoleon was walking jn the garden at Fontainebleu. His companions were General
Bertrand and the Due de Bassano, with whom he was discussing his future. Whether to strike a blow for liberty or to go quietly to the island of Elba was the problem. His attention was diverted by a child picking violets. The little creature offered them to Napoleon and they were accepted in silence. The vein of superstition that was always present in his nature controlled his thoughts and turning to his companions he said:
"Gentlemen, I am thinking of that child. It seems that by giving me these flowers, I have been warned to imitate for the future the modesty of the violet. Henceforth it shall be the emblem of my desires."
"Sire," said Bertrand boldly, "for your Majesty's glory I trust the desire will be no more lasting than the flower." But it was not so; and Napoleon shortly went to Elba.
By the next season to wear in Paris a bunch of violets was thought to be a sign of imperialistic sympathy. In fact, they are there still regarded as having political significance. A legitimist would no sooner wear one than he would the tri coloured flag of the republic; and throughout France they are not worn in the same general way that they are in England and America.