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and without petals, all producing perfect seed. (Later flowers without petals.) Blossom rich purple, smelling very sweet. It is liable to a change in the colour of the blossom, from blue purple to red purple, flesh colour, and even white.—Withering.
LORD BACON S COMMENDATION OF THE VIOLET.
It would be an act of injustice to this sweet and simple flower, to withhold the eulogium Lord Bacon has passed on its fragrance, in his delightful chapter on gardens. "And because the breath of flowers is far sweeter in the air, where it comes and goes like the warbling of music, than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for that delight, than to know what be the flowers that do best perfume the air. Roses, damask and red, are flowers tenacious of their smells, so that you may walk by a whole row of them and find nothing of their sweetness; yea, though it be in a morning dew. Bays likewise yield no smell as they grow, rosemary little, nor sweet marjoram. That which above all others yields the smell in the air is the violet, especially the white double violet, which comes twice a year, about the middle of April and about Bartholomew-tide."
LAMENT FOR THE VIOLET.
The spring is come, the Violet's gone,
The first-born child of the early sun;
With us she is but a winter's flower,
The snow on the hills cannot blast her bower,
And she lifts up her dewy eye of blue
To the younger sky of the self-same hue.
And when the spring comes with her host
Of flowers, that flower belov'd the most,
Shrinks from the crowd, that may confuse
Her heavenly odour and virgin hues.
Pluck the others, but still remember
Their herald out of dim December— ,
The morning star of all the flowers,
The pledge of day-light's lengthen'd hours;
Nor, midst the roses, e'er forget
The virgin, virgin Violet.
[Note.] This little poem is given as Lord Byron's, merely on the authority of a newspaper. Its quiet and simple graces are, it is true, far removed from the strength and sublimity of the finest productions of that noble bard; and the feelings it breathes are as far distant from the gloom and impurity which unhappily darken and defile so many of his writings. Perhaps the violet could scarcely be deemed an appropriate flower to decorate a harp such as his, so highly toned, and struck by such a master-ham!; but he might at least have been content with the laurel, the rose, and the myrtle, and not have wreathed with these the hemlock and the deadly nightshade.
THE GOLDEN VIOLET OF TOULOUSE.
The ancient bards of the south, the troubadours of Provence, have consecrated the violet to the service of the Muses, by selecting it as a model for the golden prize, to be bestowed on their most successful poet. It is recorded that, in the year 1323, seven of the inhabitants of Toulouse, men of rank and wealth, and of literary taste, assembled in a garden in that city, and, assuming the title of La gate Societe des sept Troubadours de Toulouse, drew up a circular letter, addressed to all the poets of Languedoc, inviting them to come to Toulouse on the 1st of May following, to recite their verses in the presence of La gaie Societe, and promising a golden violet to him who should compose the best poem. The letter itself was in Proven9al rhyme. The assembly met on the day appointed, and such was the foundation of an institution, which, in later times, became known under the name of the Academy of Floral Games.
The society, thus simply formed, soon grew into greater importance; and other flowers were added to the violet, and given as prizes for various kinds of composition: as the ode, the idyl, the sonnet, the oration. At the end of the thirteenth, or beginning of the fourteenth century, the prizes were rendered still more valuable by the bequest of Clemence Isaure, a lady of Toulouse, of whom little more is known, than that, by her will, she appropriated a certain portion of her property to defray the expense of three flowers for the academy every year, each to be worth at least fifteen pistoles. These flowers were to be of silver gilt, a cubit in height, and fixed on a pedestal of the same metal, with the arms of the city engraved on it.
Of the festival and all its ceremonies, as observed in the middle of the eighteenth century, we cannot better convey an idea to our youthful readers, than by relating the following adventure of Marmontel.
This writer was himself one of those flowers of geniu3 which are sometimes seen springing up in the bosom of obscurity. Born in a remote village in the south of France, the child of poor but virtuous parents, Marmontel had many difficulties to contend with in the pursuit of his studies. The most valuable part of his education was obtained at a college of Jesuits, where he met with such kindness and encouragement from one of the teachers, a certain father Mollasse, as made a lasting impression on his heart.
He was afterwards removed to the university of Toulouse; and while there, a sight of some of the prize poems of the academy inspired him with a sudden ambition to become a poet, and enter the lists with the Toulousan writers. To this, however, he seems to have been led, in the first place, by filial affection, rather than by any motive of selfish vanity. He was most tenderly attached to his mother, who, on her part, took the warmest interest in every thing connected with this her darling child, and he knew how much she would be delighted to receive from his hands a bouquet of the golden flowers of Toulouse.
Thus stimulated, he applied himself to poetical composition, and was many times a successful candidate. The last time he contested the prize he sent in five pieces; an ode, two poems, and two idyls. The only three prizes which the academy distributed that year were assigned to him. As the people of Toulouse had no idea of any literary success more brilliant than that which was obtained at the Academy of Floral Games, the public assembly for the distribution of the prizes had all the splendour and crowded attendance usual at a great solemnity. Three deputies from parliament pre. sided, and the chief magistrates and the corporation of the city were present in their robes >