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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1831, by FIELDING
Lucas, Jun. in the Clerk's Office of the district of Maryland.
ADAM WALDIE, PRINTER.
k:- - Q R 84
“ Master Louis, where have you picked up so inany trifles ?"
Tais noted remark of the Cardinal Hyppolito to the author of the “Orlando Furioso," on his presenting him with the first copy of his work, would be much more appropriate to the present recueil, than to the “fine frenzy” of Ariosto. Yet one may be worse employed than in conversing with flowers. They are innocent companions, at least ; and, in those hours in which the most industrious look for relaxation and amusement, it will be happy for us if we find no society more noxious, than that of these pure and beautiful parts of the creation.
Do we make the most of the objects which surround us—do we extract from them all the information, and all the innocent amusement which they are capable of affording ? The question is not addressed to the scientific; but to those, of whom the writer admits herself to be one, who are too often content to gaze with a vacant and transient admiration at the works of the creation, and then to remember them no more. Here, for instance, is this blooming earth : what an interest has the science of botany thrown over it! Yet how few are there, among us, who are disposed to taste of the banquet which this science affords ! --Again, these flowers interest us by their beauty and fragrance, and here we stop. Travellers, however, assure us, that the people of the East see something more in them than mere objects of admiration. In the hands of these primitive and interesting people, they become flowers of rhetoric, and speak their feelings with far more tenderness and force than words can impart. With them, there is something sacred in this mode of communication. It is a kind of religious worship-an offering of the fruits of the earth ; and, though addressed to an earthly object, it still retains something of the sanctity which belonged to the rite from which it was probably borrowed, and is accompanied with a devotion far more true, and deep, and touching, than the artificial homage which distinguished the courts of Europe, even in the vaunted age of chivalry. Compared with modern manners, either in Europe or America, what is there that can vie, in picturesque beauty, with the Persian youth, gracefully presenting a rose to his mistress? What language can convey a compliment so delicate and exquisite ? and if a communication of a still more interesting nature be intended, how much more refined, poetic and affecting is the mute eloquence of the eastern lover, than those awkward and embarrassing declarations which are in use in other countries ! How much easier is it to present a flower, than to make a speech !
It is upon the hint suggested by this oriental custom, and for the purpose of trying, as a matter of curiosity, how far this emblematic language could be carried, that the following collection has been made.
Mr. Percival tells us,
" Each blossom that blooms in their garden bowers
Pity it is that we have no key to this mystic language of the East. Very few of their embleins have reached
So far as they are known, they have been adopted in this collection. A few others have been borrowed from books and manuscripts. To supply the residue, which constitutes the far greater number, and to furnish the whole with appropriate illustrations, has been the chief amusement out of which this petit jeu has grown. Very few of the emblems have been attached without reason. In general, they have been suggested either by some allusion to the specific flower in British poets, or by its botanical, or its popular name, or by some property peculiar to it, such as its hue, form, odour, place and manner of growth, sensibility, medicinal virtue, or some