THE FLOWER FAIRY.
Learned antiquaries have ascertained and
plainly described the spot where the earthly paradise was situated. We
know with what trees those celestial grounds were planted, and what
countries adjoined them on the north, the south, the east, and the west.
Thanks to these researches, the topography of Eden would appear to
advantage in the charts of the Land Registry, or among the files of the
Recorder of Deeds.
No philosopher has busied himself in
determining exactly the geographical site of the palace occupied by the
Flower Fairy. We are left, in this respect, to mere conjecture. Some place
it in the kingdom of Cashmere; others say it is south-southeast from
Delhi. While some think it is on the table-land of the
Himalaya, others suppose it to be situated in the center of the island of
Java; in the midst of some vast forest, which, by its labyrinthine and
prolific vegetation, protects it from unseasonable visits, and from the
research of exploring travelers.
We alone are acquainted with the route to
the Flower Land – but a solemn oath forbids us to reveal it. The
newspapers would get there as soon as we could; and God only knows to what
condition they would soon bring that happy country, which as yet, has
experienced no revolution, but the one which we are about to describe.
If the reader would accompany us thither,
he must suffer his eyes to be bandaged. We must also examine his pockets,
lest, like Tom Thumb, he scatter seeds on the way, to identify his path. –
Now we have commenced our journey, and the bandage may drop as soon as we
Do you not feel around your brows a softer
and sweeter air than you ever breathed before? Do you not perceive, in
spite of the obscurity that veils your sight, a light more brilliant, and
penetrating, and delightful, even than that which shines on your native
land? It is because our journey is accomplished. We are now in the domains
of the Flower Fairy.
Here is a garden where the
productions of every zone and clime are united, and live together in
friendly brotherhood. The brilliant tropical flower is seen by the side of
the violet, and the aloes near the periwinkle. Palm-trees spread their
fan-like leaves above a grove of acacias, whose white flowers are faintly
tinged with red. Jasmines and pomegranates mingle their silver stars and
their crimson glow. The rose, the pink, the lily, and a thousand flowers
which arrest the eye, but which we need no name, here mingle in harmonious
groups, or form beautiful arabesques. All these flowers live, breathe, and
converse, as they interchange odors.
Round the feet of the trees, shrubs, and
plants, countless little rills flow, wildly meandering. The water runs
over diamonds, whose light flickers and plays, as it comes reflected with
tints of gold, of azure, or of opal. Here butterflies of every shape and
hue, shun or chase each other in their mingled flight. Now they float –
now wheel – now alight – and now rise, with wings of amethyst, of emerald,
of onyx, of turquoise, and of sapphire. There is not a bird in the garden,
-- yet you seem to be enveloped by the universal harmony, as in one of the
concerts which we hear in our dreams – and this is the breeze which sighs,
murmurs, plays, and sings some melody to every flower.
The palace of the fairy is not unworthy of
this wondrous place. A genius, who is her friend, has collected those
threads of silver and gold, which in the mornings of early spring, float
from plant to plant. These he as braided, interwoven, and formed into
graceful festoons. The whole palace is composed of this charming filigree.
Rose-leaves form the roof, while the blue bindweed fills the interstices
of the light trellis which extends like a curtain round the fairy – who,
indeed, is seldom at home, occupied, as she is, in visiting her flowers,
and watching their happiness.
Does any one think that a flower can never
be unhappy? It would seem to be impossible – and yet nothing is more
certain. Our fairy found this by her own experience.
One fine spring evening, as the Flower
Fairy was gently rocking in her hammock of interwoven convolvuli, idly
thinking of those other mysterious flowers, which we call stars, suddenly
she thought she heard a distant rustling – a confused noise. “It is the
sylphs,” thought she, “who come to woo the flowers;” and she relapsed into
her revery. But soon the sounds become louder, and the gold sand resounded
under steps more and more distinct. The fairy sat erect, and beheld
approaching a long procession of flowers. They were of all ages, and of
every rank. Full-blown Roses, already on their decline, there walked,
surrounded by their young families of buds. All distinctions were
overlooked. The aristocratic Tulip gave her arm to the vulgar and plebeian
Pink. The Geranium, proud as a financier, walked side by side with the
tender Anemone – and the haughty Amaryllis listened without much disdain,
to the rather vulgar conversation of the Bladder-nut-tree. As often
happens in well arranged societies, at times of great emergency, a forced
reconciliation had taken place among the flowers.
Lilies, with their brows encircled by
fireflies and the Bellflowers, with glow-worms shining, like living
lanterns, among their petals lighted the procession, which was brought up,
in a somewhat disorderly manner, by a careless troop of Daisies.
The procession drew up in good order
before the palace of the astonished fairy, and an eloquent Hellebore,
stepping from the ranks, thus addressed her: --
“The flowers here present beg you
to accept their homage, and to lend a favorable ear to their humble
complaint. For thousands of years we have supplied mankind with their
themes of comparison; we alone have given them all their metaphors;
indeed, without us poetry could not exist. Men lend to us their virtues
and their vices; their good and their bad qualities; -- and it is time
that we should have some experience of what these are. We are tired of the
flower-life. We wish for permission to assume the human form, and to
judge, for ourselves, whether that which they say above, of our character,
is agreeable to truth.”
A murmur of approbation followed this
The fairy could not believe the testimony
of her own eyes and ears.
“What,” said she, “ do you wish to change
your existence, so like to that of the gods, for the miserable life which
men lead? What is there wanting to make you happy? Have you not, for your
adornment, diamonds of dew? – conversations with the zephyrs for your
entertainment? – and the kisses of butterflies, to make you dream of
“The dews make me take cold,” said , with
a yawn, the Belle de Nuit.
“The songs of the Zephyr tire me to
death,” said a Rose. “He has repeated the same thing for these thousand
years. The poets of an academy must surely be more amusing.”
“What care I,” murmured a sentimental
Periwinkle, “for the caresses of the Butterfly, since he never
participates in the enjoyment? The Butterfly is the very symbol of
selfishness. He would not know his own mother, -- and his children, in the
turn, would not recognize him. How can he have learned any thing of love?
He has neither a past, nor a future; he remembers nothing, and is himself
forgotten. Men alone know how to love.”
The fairy turned upon the Periwinkle a
mournful look, which seemed to say, -- “And thou, too!” She felt
that her efforts to put down the rebellion would be unavailing, -- still
she resolved to make one more attempt.
“Once upon the earth,” said she to her
revolted subjects, “how do you intend to live?”
“I shall be an author,” replied the
“And I a shepherdess,” added the
“I shall come out as marriage-maker, -- I
as a schoolmaster, -- I as a teacher of the piano, -- I as a
trinket-vender, -- and I as a fortune-teller” – exclaimed all together,
the Orange-flower, the Thistle, the Hortensia, the Iris, and the Daisy.
The Larkspur talked of his debut at the
opera, and the Rose vowed that when she should have become a duchess, she
would have the satisfaction of crowning rosièeres* without number.
*Young maidens who
have won the prize of goodness.
Many flowers were there which had already
lived, and which declared that life among men was very comfortable and
agreeable. Narcissus and Adonis had been the secret instigators of this
revolt, -- especially Narcissus, who longed to know how a beautiful youth
would look in a Venetian mirror.
The Flower Fairy remained for a while
plunged in thought. She then addressed the rebels in a sad but decided
“Go, deluded flowers; -- let it be as you
propose. Ascend upon the earth, and try human life. Ere long you will come
back to me.”
The history of these flowers, which were
changed to women, you will read in this volume. We have collected these
adventures wherever we could find them, -- traversing all lands, and
questioning all classes of people, -- but keeping no record of dates or
epochs. The flowers have lived, to a certain extent, everywhere. You may
have been acquainted with some of them, and not suspected it. It is very
unfortunate that they have not thought fit to make more disclosures, or to
write their own memoirs. This would have relieved us from much trouble –
would have saved us many steps, and more than all, many mistakes.
In concluding the introduction, we must inform you
that the fairy did not grant the desired permission, without silently
resolving that she would be revenged. The next morning her garden was a
desert. One flower alone remained – the solitary Heath-plant, which blooms
Symbol of undying love ! she well knew
that for her there was no place on earth.