Unchangeable is the truth that, "Si l'auteur de la nature est grand dans les grandes choses, il est tres grand dans les petites;"§ wisely then, like the old philosopher, Sir Thomas Browne, shall we study the mighty book of nature, "that universal and pub-lic manuscript that lies expanded unto the eyes of all".
"For not, oh, not alone to charm our sight, Gave God the blooming flowers, the leaves of light. They speak a language which we yet may learn,
A divination of mysterious might! And glorious thoughts may angel-eyes discern,
Flower-writ in mead, and vale, where'er man's footsteps turn."||
* N. P. Willis. † Bell. ‡ Longfellow. § Rousseau.
|| Charles Swain.
And so shall we,
"Say that He who, from the dust Recalls the slumbering flower, Will surely visit those who trust His mercy and His power." *
We shall remember who it was who bade us to "consider the lilies how they grow;" and shall be ready to exclaim -
* * "Oh! Father, Lord.
The all-beneficent, we bless Thy name,
That Thou hast mantled the green earth with flowers,
Sinking our hearts to nature,"† and shall become,
* * * "So impressed,
With quietness and beauty, and so fed With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues, Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb Our cheerful faith that all which we behold Is full of blessings." ‡ and so, having seen "Honi soit qui mal y pense, writ In emerald tufts, flowers purple, blue, and white;" § we turn again to the cares, the crosses, the trials, and the duties, of life with a freshened vigour, a calmed heart, and a renewed resolution, and go back as quietly to our toils, which we did but momentarily forget, as the pen reverts to.
* Dr.Moir. † Mrs.Hemans. ‡ Wordsworth. § Shakespeare.
Note. - The greater part of the extracts given above, are collected together in that pleasant little volume "The Moral of Flowers," by Mr. Adams.
"The blue and bright-eyed floweret of the brook, Hope's gentle gem, the sweet forget-me-not;"* which we so lately left for the "realms of poesy," where, like Titania, we have been gathering "Not riches, the desire of little souls, * * * * * but 'forget-me-nots.' "†
For it is now time to make a few observations on the string of names which head these remarks on the myosotis: and on the propriety or inapplica-bility of some of its appellations. Gladly would I enter a protest against the terrible name of scor-pion-grass, as applied to this friendly plant, which, however - as being derived from some fancied re-semblance between the tail of a scorpion, and the budding flower raceme - I will consider as applying to the genus only, and not to the individual plant; for though eight species are enumerated by Hooker as belonging to our British myosoti, I cannot admit of the very frequent error of calling them indis-criminately forget-me-nots. We may dispute as we will, respecting the real origin of the name forget-me-not, but we cannot deny that the story of Euro-pean acceptance, though of Rhenish origin (which tells how a lover venturing into a river, to gather for his beloved some of these blossoms which grew on an island, was carried away by the eddying stream, and could but cast, with dying hand, the flowers she wished for towards her, exclaiming Vergiss-mein-nichfi) was framed in relation to some water-plant, and not to any which grows in localities so dessicated as those frequented by a great proportion of the others, which I do not, therefore, include under the head of forget-me-nots. I may here remark that supposition of the emblematic signification of the flower having arisen from the circumstance of the banished Duke of Lancaster, afterwards Henry IV., blending it with the initial letter of his watchword, Souveigne vous de mois, as the badge of his ad-herents, is a very remarkable instance of ingenious adaptation of fact to circumstance; a curious ex-ample of the confusion of cause and effect.
Even did we not know the name to be of far more vene-rable age, the idea would be shaken by its prevalence through so many of the European languages, over which a party badge could have no influence. I should, however, remark that it would appear con-fined to nations having the Teutonic element, a cir-cumstance which in no way affects what has been already said. That this meaning was attached to it in England, so early as the year 1465, is shewn by Mills in his "History of Chivalry," for on the 17th of April, in that year when a joust was held, in which Lord Scales, the brother of the queen, took part, the fair ladies of her court presented to that favoured knight a collar of gold, enamelled with "forget-me-nots".
† Ludwig Tieck.
The botanical term myosotis is not unapt, signify-ing, as it does, mouse's, or rat's, ear; hence our Eng-lish name of mouse-ear, the Italian orecchio di topo, and the Spanish and Portuguese miosota, and myo-sota; as the downy, ovate leaves really bear a resemblance to the ears of those animals. Most of the Welsh names have a signification agreeing with the habit of calling either this plant or the speedwell, eyebright; which we suspect to have been originally applied to this plant rather than to that which at present so called, namely, the Euphrasia, as the term probably referred to the appearance of the plant, to that bright, upward-turned flower which so distinctly recalls to us some clear, honest, blue eye, rather than to the property of healing diseases of the eye, from which the Euphrasia is named. Thus the Welsh Golwg Grist, signifies Sight of Christ; Llygaid Grist, Christ's eye; Gloy-wlys, bright, or clear herb; Goleiddrem, light, and sight, or aspect; and Ef-fros (effro), awakening. But the appellation of Dorfagl (Tor, a mantle, and fagl, a flame), is per-plexing, as it does not ap-pear applicable to a blue flower, however bright. A similar remark may, also, be made with regard to one of the names of another blue flower, perfagl (per, sweet) the periwinkle.
Most abundantly grows the forget-me-not beside brooks, rivers, and stagnant ditches; asking only for moisture in order to fringe their sides with its turquoise flowers, whose brilliant hue is beautifully contrasted with the clear yellow eye, and the distinct white ray which defines the base of each segment of the monopetalous corolla. Yet in a state of cultivation it will dispense with the natural requirement of moisture, and will even produce blossoms of a larger size than when in its native habitats. There can be few more beautiful plants for "bedding" as gar-deners term it, than this; possessing, as it does, the advantage of continuing the whole summer in bloom if the blossom-stalks be but regularly gathered; teaching, that like the friendship of which it is the emblem, it strengthens by cultiva-tion. It is also an excellent plant for "window gardening/'
Forget-me-not. - Myosotis palustris.
Pliny, who, like most of the early writers, has always some wonderful tale to tell of the Egyptians, affirms that they believe that if this plant is gathered on the 27th day of Thiatis (Thoth), which answers nearly to our August, and any one anoints his eyes with its juice before he speaks in the morning, he will be free from weak eyes all that year. This grows in the valley of the Nile; but there is also a myosotis peculiar to the Desert - though rare there - which is rather smaller, and with a darker blue flower, than any of our species.
To wander forth into the boundless, and bondless, realms of poetry, and of rhyme, which have been attached to this little flower would be a task for which we have little inclination, but we can, nevertheless, not resist the insertion of the following stanza of Germany's glorious poet.*
"Wenn sie ein blaues Blumchen bricht Und immer sagt: Vergiss mein nicht! So fuhl' ich's in der Feme. Und wenn mir fast das Herze bricht, So ruf'ich nur: Vergiss mein nicht! Da komm' ich wieder in's Leben".