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The Flowers Personified


now available in paperback Volume I

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more information

Flower Names
Flower Meaning
Flower Fairy Tales

The Flowers Personified introduction

The Flowers
The hand-colored plates

The Flower Fairy
How and why the Flowers became human

The Story of Two Shepherdesses,
the Blonde and the Brunette: and of a Queen of France

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
[6] [7] [8] [9] [10]
(Bluebottle, Corn poppy and Lily)

The Poet Jacobus Supposed He Had Found a Subject For An Epic Poem
(Pansy)  The secret language of flowers

Alphabetical list of Flower names in English, French & Latin with Meaning

Alphabetical list of Flower Meanings

Flora Timekeeping
Flora's Clock
The Floral Week
The Calendar of Flora

A Trick of the Flower Fairy

The Sultana Tulipia
[1] [2] [3] [4]

Fragments Taken at Random from the album of the rose
[1] [2] [3] [4]
[5] [6] [7] [8] [9]


Serious Displute In Relation to the Violet: Between The Flower Fairy and An Academy Which Prefers To Remain Anonymous.

(Water Lily)


MARGUERTINE The Oracle of the Meadows

CANZONE - The Flower of Forgetfulness

Flowers of the Ball-room


The Everlasting Flower

Differences in Plates

The Flowers

Differences in Bindings











     The Flower Fairy had fixed her residence on earth, partly to avoid a place which recalled unpleasant remembrances, and partly, that she might more closely watch the behavior of their ladyships, the flowers.

     Every day brought some new vexation—some fresh cause of dissatisfaction.

     The rose had been the child of her preference – her favorite daughter, – and the life which she beheld her leading, filled the soul of the fairy with the deepest grief.

     Neither had she much reason to congratulate herself on the condition of the Lily, the Tulip, of Bleuette and Coquelicot, of the Pansy, and of many other flowers, whose adventures are given in the course of this work.

     The certainty of her approaching revenge could not prevent the anguish of her maternal heart.

     Among the flowers, some were unhappy, because they had preserved faithfully their original characters; and others were so, because they had endeavored to change them.

      It was in this latter way that the violet was hastening to its ruin. That very day the fairy had seen her in a splendid carriage, glistening is silk, and gold, and jewels.

      The violet had renounced her life of retirement.

      The Flower Fairy, to relieve the sadness which this sight occasioned, left the town by the country-road. She was attired as the wife of a judge; and took with her a little chubby-faced domestic, who carried her parasol and her hood.

      At the entrance to a small wood she dismissed her servant, and went under the trees, to enjoy quietly the cool air, and the pleasure of solitary reading.

      The book which she held was a complete history of flowers.

      The fairy was much interested in what she read, for she found there copious themes for ridicule, in the false statements that have been gravely made respecting flowers and their origin.

      She was occupied, at the time, with the history of the violet.

      “The Violet,” said the author of the book referred to, “is the daughter of Atlas. This young nymph was chased by Apollo, and was about to fall into the power of that Don Juan, when the gods, in compassion, changed her to a violet.

      “Such is the method usually employed by the gods to defeat the gallant projects of Apollo. The fertile imagination of Jupiter might occasionally, one would think, invent something new.”

      The fairy dropped her book, and sat up on the grass, that she might laugh more at her ease. The fact is, that when standing, she was compelled to hold her sides.

      “These authors,” said she, “are certainly very ridiculous people. Where the deuce did they find out that the Violet is the daughter of Atlas, and a nymph by profession? In fact, her father’s name was simply Jerome, and she herself, under the name of Marcella, carried on the trade of seamstress in a country town.

      “I cannot, with propriety,” added the fairy, “longer allow such errors to be credited. It is time the facts were made known.” So she returned home to draw up the following memoir, which she addressed to the Academy: –



Gentlemen of the Academy: –
     “If there be a single science which deserves the fixed attention of mankind, and especially of the learned, it is undeniably that which pertains to the origin of flowers.

      “At the present time this science is obscured by the mists of ignorance. A multitude of false notions have gone abroad. If precautionary steps be not early taken, the evil will soon be past remedy.

      “It is the duty of a body so respectable, so illustrious, so enlightened as that which I now have the honor to address, to make popular, to spread abroad, and to give their own sanction to the great truths of history, of politics, of philosophy, and the other sciences. With confidence, then, do I address the Academy, convinced beforehand, that it will accord to my corrections all that consideration which they so fully deserve.

      “May I be allowed, before entering on the immediate subject of my memoir, to submit to this learned body some general reflections, which seem to me indispensable, in order to” – * * *



      We must take the liberty to suppress these general reflections. As the method adopted by the fairy might at length produce on the reader an impression by no  means agreeable, we shall substitute for this part of the memoir, which contains a minute history of the violet, a narrative, simple and animated. We at first thought of using for this purpose, the language of the gods, commonly called poetry. But not having at hand our rhyming dictionary, we must be content with plain prose.



     It was a day of festival. All the young girls of the borough were issuing from their homes in handsome deshabille.

      Some  went to walk in the fields: others were attracted by the sound of the tambourine, which stuck up the merry signal of the dance.

      To laugh, to play, to amuse themselves, and to show off their charms, seemed to be the object of all.

      One alone remained, shut up at home. It was Marcella, the gardener Jerome’s pretty daughter.

      “Come along with us, Marcella,” cried her companions, as they passed. “The air is perfumed with the odor of the wild plum, and the skies are blue. Go with us to the May dance.”

      Marcella gently shook her head; or if some young man attempted to throw her a bouquet, she put to the shutters, and worked faster than before.

      How neat and bright every thing looks in Marcella’s cottage. One could almost think that she has imparted her own virgin graces to every object around her. Mark the bed, with its white-fringed counterpane, – the walnut cupboard, – the straw-seated chair, – the spinning-wheel that was her mother’s – the narrow looking-glass hung by the wall, – the basin of holy water, – and the virgin’s image, that watches over her while she sleeps.

      If Marcella pursued her toil on a festival-day, it was neither from avarice, nor from caprice. Her needle was busy for the poor. Accordingly, as that goes and comes quickly, so is she nimble and cheerful. To-morrow morning old Jacqueline will have an excellent, large, warm gown, to protect from the cold winds her wasted, feeble limbs.

      Marcella, as she plies her needle, sings her favorite song: –

      “I wish I were a little flower.

      “Were I a little flower, I’d choose a spot, retired among the moss.

      “Some spot retired, upon the streamlet’s side.

      “There would I live, hidden in the grass, and looking at the sky.”

      This song had several other couplets, but these were Marcella’s favorites.

      Towards evening she went into her garden, which was full of beautiful trees and flowers, of murmuring waters, and tall, tufted grass.

      This garden was cultivated by her father Jerome, the aged gardener of the castle; and it was his own and his daughter’s sole amusement: and a pleasure it was to see how harmoniously the flowers were wedded to the shrubs; what graceful shapes the branches assumed; and how gently the grass bent under the footstep.

      The Flower Fairy was very fond of father Jerome. She went often to his garden to see him at this work, as he spaded the mould, pruned his trees, and trimmed his flowers. It was a pleasure to her to wipe away, occasionally, with the tip of her wing, the sweat that stood upon the old man’s forehead.   

      On this very day she had come to see father Jerome’s garden. At the time when his daughter entered the garden, the fairy was earnestly contemplating the calyx of a Queen Margaret.*

          *Reine-Marguerite, – China aster.

      She then took a notion to look into the depths of Marcella’s heart. Calyx for calyx, the hearts of the maiden and the flower were equally pure.

      Echo at length brought into the midst of that solitude, the sound of the tambourine – the merry shouts of the young girls, with all the melodies, perfumes, and aspirations, that belong to the close of a fine day in spring.

      Marcella was sitting on the grass, and thinking only how happy old Jacqueline would be made on the morrow.

      At the sight of so much innocence and candor, the Flower Fairy was tenderly affected.

      “Poor child of humble birth,” said she; “pure as the snow of the glacier, – good as nature herself, thy sole instructress, – fair as innocence, – and diffusing the fragrance of chastity and modesty; – who will save thee from the temptations of the wealthy and bad? Who will keep thee from the snares into which so many of they companions have fallen?”

      Unconscious of the soliloquy of which she had been the theme, Marcella, as she looked at the sky, changed her wonted strain:

      “I wish I were a little flower.

      “Were I a little flower, I’d choose a spot, retired among the moss.

     “Some spot retired, upon the streamlet’s side.

     “There would I live, hidden in the grass, and looking at the sky.”

      The Flower Fairy resolved to gratify this prayer, and stretched her wand over Marcella.

      On the instant, she disappeared under a veil of leaves. In the place where she had been, was seen a flower whose petals were covered with pearly dew-drops. You would have thought them tears in an eye of blue.

      It was Marcella, who thus bade her father adieu.

      The Violet is the daughter of the humble. Devotedness, candor, purity, and modesty are the elements from which the fairy composed the perfume of the flower.




     “On the –– day of ––, A.D. ––, the Academy of ––, having assembled in its usual place of meeting, listened to the conclusions of the report presented by the distinguished poet, Jacobus, in regard to the origin of the Violet.

      “These conclusions are as follows: –

      “ ’1. That little confidence can be placed in contributions made to science by a class of beings, whose very existence is so questionable as that of the fairies.

      “ ’2. That when the source is apocryphal, the communications which proceed from it, must, of necessity, be apocryphal also.

       “ ’3. That the concurrent testimony of past ages shows, that all the flowers are essentially mythologic in their origin.’

       “Consequently, –

       “The Academy pronounces its opinion, that, more than ever, it considers the Violet to be the daughter of Atlas.

     “It also affirms, on its soul and on its conscience, before God and before man, that the daughter of Atlas was by birth a nymph, and that the gods, to save her from the persecution of Apollo, changed her to the Violet.” 



     It is undeniable that the poet Jacobus is entirely wrong, and that the explanation of the Flower Fairy is the only good and true one.

      But this is only one proof of more of the stupidity of learned societies in general, and of academies in particular.



     With us, then, and with all enlightened minds, it is a conceded fact, that the Flower Fairy is in the right.

      Those who have followed, with the heed which becomes a master so grave and important, the thread of our narrative, have not forgotten, that mention was made, at the outset, of the appearance of the violet in a splendid carriage, with all the accompaniments of dress and luxury.

      What can have become of her pristine modesty? How has a daughter of the common people become a great lady?

      Oh, Marcella! How couldst thou so disappoint us, when reappearing upon the earth in they former shape?

      Of all the changes which the Flower Fairy has witnessed, thine is the one which has touched her most sensibly.

      But we must not be too hasty in condemning Marcella.

      That has happened to her which has happened to so many of her companions, who are without experience.

      She is young – she is handsome – she is a woman. She hears two voices, which are ever chanting within her.

      One of them says: “Stay here in the mead – by the side of the grass-plot – on the banks of the stream, where heaven gave  you birth. Happiness dwells only in retirement.”

      The other murmurs in your ear: “Beauty and youth are two gifts from heaven. Wo to the one who would bury them. The stream preserves no image; the grass-plot retains no perfume. Happiness is to be found only in society.”

      For a long time the soul wavers undecided, as it listens to these voices. At length one of the two becomes imperceptible. The other still sounds the praises of fame, and splendor, and worldly pleasure – and gains at last a willing ear.

      Then she plunges into the whirl of festivities and spectacles; and she is flattered and courted the more, as her real character presents a lively contrast to the life which she is leading.

      For a little while she may imagine herself happy.

      But soon comes the disenchantment; and with it weariness, disgust, and contempt.

      In the midst of all this outward gayety, she thinks, with regret, of her former happiness – and of her present life, with the bitterness of remorse.

      Have you never happened to witness, amid the excitement of the ball-room, a shade of sadness that came, in an instant, over some young and brilliant face – and lovely eyes, that sought concealment for their tears?

     Would you know the cause of this sadness – the source of these tears?

      She mourns the innocent pleasures of youth; she remembers the quiet happiness of unnoticed retirement.



     The lights which shone from the castle in which Marcella resides, have been, for some time, extinguished; the stars begin to grow dim; and the nightingale at the water-side is about to finish her melodious cavatina. It is the hour at which the Flower Fairy prepares to close the eyes of the marvels of Peru.

     She comes with a light step, that she may not disturb the sleep which is beginning to steal over them. All of a sudden, she stops.

      An unusual sound is heard. Groans, sobs, and occasionally the faint echo of some plaintive song, reach her ear.

      The fairy listens, turning towards the part from which the sound proceeds. Is it the wind sighing in that clump of aspens, or the rill, which weeps as it leaves the protection of its native rocks?

      There is not a breath of air to ruffle the topmost leaf; while the thick moss hushes all the murmur of the rill.

      It is a woman weeping. The fairy recognizes her.

      It is Marcella, who has left her couch of silk and of down, to visit the plain.

      Sleep has forsaken her lids, or brings to her nothing but dismal dreams. She is afflicted, and her eyes overflow.

      She thinks of the time when she was a violet, and used to awake all enraptured under the fresh kisses of the dew.

      She sings as formerly, – “I wish I were a little flower.”

      There are some sounds which reach the heart – accents which never deceive us.

      As she listened to Marcella, the fairy, who was flying over her head, was greatly moved. She wept to behold one so handsome and so unhappy.

      One of her tears fell on Marcella’s burning brow.

      In an instant her metamorphosis was effected.

      The fairy had a second time granted the prayer of the song.

      On the following day search was everywhere made for Marcella; but no one could give any account of her.

      In the place, however, where she used every night to sit, there was found a superb violet, concealed by grass.

      Its beauty did not intrude upon the eye; the flower was betrayed by its fragrance.

      To restore Marcella to her former state, but one thing was needed: –

     That one thing was – repentance.


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