Violets by Emma Converse


THEY are in their glory now, clothed in purple, seated on thrones of emerald, enshrouded in an atmosphere of fragrance, to whose exquisite sweetness no words can give expression. Theirs is no lordly assumption of power; no golden sceptre raised by regal pride gives the sign of admission to their presence; and no right of the stronger enforces the homage they receive. But, wherever they grow on God's earth, they command
the willing allegiance of all lovers of the beautiful in the kingdom of the flowers.

Violets are among our earliest floral favorites, and every year's experience of their beauty adds to the tender associations that connect them with friends that are no more. Every one loves violets. We have seen little children rejoieing in their loveliness, and old persons, beyond the allotted threescore and ten, with eyes radiant in tearful joy from beholding them once more. The poets cannot say enough of them; from human birth to death they form the material for their choicest metaphors. We tried once to make a collection of poetic allusions to this sweet flower. We easily found more than five hundred, each one a gem, and gave up the work as endless, having by no means exhausted our resources.

Millions of millions of " sweet violets" are now beautifying lawns and garden-borders. While we write, the sweet perfume of their breath comes from the sunny southern bank, where, year after year, they make their appearance ns regularly as the robins, bluebirds, and golden orioles in the elm-trees above them. How suddenly they spring into life! Watch them patiently as you will, and you see no sign. Let a warm day come, let a genial breeze blow over them, and there they are, purpling the greensward, springing forth, full-grown, like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. They need no care and ask no protection. Throw a root carelessly on the turf, and presently a colony is established, spreading its borders, and throwing out runners in all directions.

A mass of them is beautiful, so is a little clump, and so is a solitary member of the family found in some unexpected spot. A heaped basket of rarest exotics cannot draw forth half the admiration we give to these Bweet intruders, these lovely symbols of the gentle graces, these touching reminders of the power of modest worth. What a tiny world of beauty is enclosed within the boundaries of each unique-shaped corolla! What delicious shading and blending of purplecoloring tint the tissues of each exquisite petal, from the deep glow of the edge to the pure white of the centre! With what wealth of development the petals in double violets crowd and lap over each other, from the full expansion of the outmost to the artistic folding of those nearest the heart! How gorgeously are the anthers tipped with glowing orange 1 What a nondescript figure the whole flower makes, pleasing every one, and yet conforming to no laws, and describing no Hogarthian curve of beauty!

But, after all, it is the perfume of the violet which gives to it its crowning grace. The great interpreter of Nature thought it wasteful and ridiculous excess to add a perfume to the violet, and language is equally powerless to portray its rare loveliness. And yet from every infinitesimal atom of perfume there comes a voiceless message. Is it not a symbol of the power of a holy life, of the saintly fragrance which breathes from the memory of those who, having passed on, have left behind the record of well-spent lives? Therefore do we weave violets with floral harps and crowns and crosses, as the

most perfect tribute affection can give to the memory of the loved and the lost.

Botanists make the violet speak another language. "Faithfulness," "I shall never forget," are the words those skilled in the language of flowers hear in gentle tones from every member of the race. But the most comforting lesson to be learned from the lowly flower is that which associates it with the joys of the world to come, for the lavish profusion of violets, the grace of their refinement, the perfection of their development, the ineffable breath which betrays their presence, are like loop-holes through which we catch glimpses of higher conditions of existence.

Then welcome to the violets now filling their place in the procession of the flowers, whether blooming unseen in forest - homes, purpling the hill-sides, or rejoicing in the culture of garden and hot-bed 1 Welcome to the fragrant atmosphere betraying their presence, whether the simple earthy aroma of the wild-wood flowers, or the permeating perfume of exotic training! Glorious in coloring, artistic in outline, fresh as the breath of morn, countless in abundance, and indescribable in perfume, let them teach, in floral language, lessons of the beauty of humility, and of the sweet fragrance of a holy life. The voice of God may still be heard in the garden as in the days of old.

Emma M. Converse