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The Flowers Personified

Section 7



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                     In the year 1754, I received often the visits of a certain financier, who preferred to every thing else the conversation of men of talent.

           At this period, most of the literati were visiters at my table, and in my saloons. They showed their gratitude for my attentions, by sending me copies of their works. One of them dedicated to me a little poem in three cantos, entitled — “The Art of raising Roses.” From the notes I extract the following items, which are flattering to my vanity as a flower: —

           “The god Vishnou, seeking a wife, found her at length in the calyx of a rose.

           “St Francis d’Assises, in order to mortify his flesh, one day rolled himself over thorns. Immediately afterward, in every spot where the saint’s blood had fallen, sprang up red and white roses.

           “A law was passed during the middle ages, allowing nobles only to cultivate roses.

           “The Chevalier de Guise used to faint away at the sight of a rose; and the Lord Chancellor Bacon, if he saw the same flower, even in a picture, flew into a passion.

           “Mary of Medicis was liable to the same infirmity.

           “In the twelfth century, the Pope established the order of the Golden Rose. At each royal accession, the pope sent this to the new monarch, in token of his official recognition.

           “The grand Mogul was one day sailing, with Nourmahal, his favorite slave, on a small lake, which the capricious odah-lic had filled with roses. The oar cleft the leafy wave, and at each motion left behind a furrow of golden liquid, which floated on the surface like a brilliant oil. Nourmahal put her hand into the water, and withdrew it all perfumed. The essence which the sun had disengaged from the flower, was the ottar of roses, the production of a woman’s fancy.”