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"But how will you make a bouquet with
such bits of things as those?"

You shall see in half a minute. I pluck,
finally, a good handful of box, such as is used
for edging, and proceed to the factory shed.
Did you ever examine what is called a composite
flower? Take a daisy, and look at it with a
strong magnifying-glass. You will see that it is
made up, both border and middle, both rays and
disk, of a number of little florets clustered together.
Our ball bouquets are made after the same
model. I have now to make one large circular
flower with the separate florets in my basket.

"Good. Show me how you do it."

I first tie my bunch of box with string, and
clip its top with shears, so that it resembles a
circular pincushion or an artichoke bottom. It
is the foundation of the structure; botanists
would call it the receptacle of my composite
flower. Here, I have bits of common rush,
about ten or eleven inches long; there, I have
bits of non-elastic iron wire, about as thick as
a horse-hair, some three inches long. With a
twist of wire I attach each flower to the end
of a rush, giving it thus an artificial stem. You
see how quickly it is done, especially when one
has three or four helping hands. We will now
stick the rush pins into the box pincushion
the flowers on their common receptacle. In the
centre, I put my Gloire de Dijon rose, surrounding
it with a circle of heliotrope; next
comes a circle of Aimée Vibert; next of scarlet
geranium; next of yellow calceolaria, and next
of fancy pelargoniums. The whole is surrounded
with a loose and hazy framework of glistening
and trembling gypsophilas. The floral surface
is even and convex. The shears shorten the
rushes to a convenient length, and the bouquet
is slipped into a funnel-shaped holder or case
of card fringed with paper stamped into lace.
All the scaffolding is hidden; the blossoms only
meet the eye. As a finishing touch, the fuchsias
are inserted round the edge, so as to droop like
pendants over the lace.

"But a bouquet so built cannot last long."

Of course not. Putting it into water to preserve
it would be as efficacious as putting your
wooden leg into a foot-bath to cure a cold. A
vapour-bath and a slight sprinkling, through the
instrumentality of a tin box, or a cool wet
towel, might refresh it a little. But, que voulez-vous?
Tis their destiny. To-night's bouquet
graces the day after to-morrow's dust-heap.

A bouquet may be something more than a
nosegay; it may become an emblem, an allegory,
a declaration, a message, a confession, a
letter, a poem even. And permit me here to
utter a word in excuse of, or apology for, emblems.
Emblems are really a natural phase of
thought, a favourite mode of conveying an idea.
The language of flowers is a native product of
the East. For instance, from time immemorial
it has been acknowledged that the rose is the
emblem of modest beauty, the viper of calumny,
the mistletoe of parasitism, the dog of friendship.
The horse is the impetuous warrior,
while the frugal ass represents the laborious,
hardy, and obstinate peasant. But the whole
system of nature is an unity which contains no
contradictions. If we accept these striking
analogies, we cannot refuse to admit others;
we cannot deny that other plants and animals
also offer emblematic allusions. They may thus
be looked upon, in all their details, as so many
mirrors of human passion. They constitute an
immense museum of allegorical pictures, in
which are painted the faults, the failings, or the
virtues of humanity.

Floral language, to a certain extent, must
depend on the significance given to colours.
Unluckily, men are far from being agreed as to
the latter point. The phalansterian school,
Fourier's disciples, are the most precise and
positive in their opinions. They hold that
violet is analogous to friendship, blue to love,
as suggested by blue eyes and the azure sky.
A bunch of violets would, therefore, tell a
lady's suitor that friendship is all he has a right
to expect. Yellow is paternity or maternity;
it is the yellow ray of the spectrum which
causes the germ to shoot. Red figures ambition
(vide the planet Mars); indigo, the spirit
of rivalry; green, the love of change, fickleness,
but also work; orange, enthusiasm; white,
unity, universality; black, favouritism, the influence
exerted by an individual. Certain persons
have the gift of fascinating all who approach
them; and black, which absorbs all the
rays of the spectrum, is the reverse of white,
which combines them in one.

Besides the seven primitive colours, grey,
indicates poverty; brown, prudery; pink, modesty;
silver-grey (semi-white), feeble love;
lilac (semi-violet), feeble friendship; pale-pink,
false shame, &c. But the analogical indications
afforded by perfumes and colours are only
superficial. As we may be deceived by a man's
outside appearance, so may we be by that of a
plant. To know it thoroughly, we must study
it as a whole, from the leaf to the blossom,
from the root to the seed. Thus, the root is
the emblem of character and principle; the
stem, of conduct; the leaf, of action, labour,
energetic effort; the calyx, of the individual's
mode of action; the petals, of the kind of
pleasures enjoyed; the seed, of the wealth
amassed or realised; the perfume, of the attractive
influence exerted on others.

On the other hand, it may be objected that
rose-colour is popularly held to be the colour
of love:

          O, my love is like a red, red rose,
          That's newly sprung in June:

while, if blue be the colour of love, there is no
such thing as a blue-rose: which is a contradiction.
Milton also makes Adam say:

To love, thou blam'st me not; for Love, thou say'st,
Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heavenly Spirits, and how their love
Express they? By looks only?
To whom the Angel, with a smile that glowed
Celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue,
Answered.