This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V29", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
A pamphlet of the year 1815, which the Temps has recently discovered, gives an account of how the violet became the emblem of imperialism in France. Three days before the embarkation for Elba, Bonaparte, accompanied by the Duke of Bassano and General Bertrand, took a walk in the gardens of Foitfainebleau. He was still wavering whether he should quietly resign himself to his banishment. The Duke of Bassano tried to point out to him that the time for withdrawal was past. Greatly excited, Napoleon walked on without speaking, trying to divert his thoughts from the subject. Suddenly he saw close to him a pretty child of three or four years of age picking flowers and tying them in a bunch. "My little friend," said the Prince, "will you give me your flowers?" "Yes, gladly," said the boy, and handed them gracefully to him. Bonaparte kissed the child, and said, after a few minutes, to his courtiers: " The accident of this occurrence is a secret hint to me to follow the example of these modest flowers.
Yes, gentlemen, henceforth the violet shall be the emblem of my wishes." "Sire,"replied Bertrand, " I hope for your Majesty's glory that this resolution will not last longer than the flower from which it takes its origin." The next day Napoleon was seen walking about the gardens with a bunch of violets, which he carried alternately in his mouth and hand. Stopping at a flower bed he stooped down to pick some flowers. The violets were rather scarce on the spot, and the grenadier Choudieu, who was on guard, said to him, " Sire, in a year's time it will be easier to pick them; they will then be more plentiful." Bonaparte, greatly astonished, looked at him. "You think, then, that next year 1 shall be back?" "Perhaps sooner; at least we hope so." "Soldier, do you not know that after to-morrow I start for Elba?" "Your Majesty will wait till the clouds roll by." "Do your comrades think like you?" "Almost all." "They may think it, but may not say it. After you are relieved go to Bertrand and let him give you 20 Napoleons d'or, but keep silence." Choudieu returned to the barracks, and drew the attention of his comrades to the fact that for the last two days the Emperor had been walking about with a bunch of violets. "We will call him among ourselves Pere la Violette." From that day forth Napoleon was only called by that name in the barracks.
By degrees the secret reached the public, and in spring the adherents of the ex-monarch carried the flower as a memorial either in their mouth or in their buttonhole. - Pall Mall Gazette.