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The Valerian is too large and scrambling a plant to hold a place in the parterre of choice flowers; besides which, cats are so fond of the smell of its blossom as to be attracted to it, and by rolling over the plant to destroy its beauty, as well as that of the contiguous flowers. They are equally fond of its root, which has a disagreeable smell: they will roll on it and gnaw it to pieces with ecstatic delight; and it seems to produce in them a kind of pleasing intoxication.
The root of the Valerian is considered as a valuable remedy for many of those ailments which luxury engenders in the human frame; exerting a peculiar influence on the nervous system, reviving the spirits, and strengthening the sight.
The Jasmine seems to have been created expressly to be the happy emblem of an amiable disposition. When brought from India, about the year 1560, by Spanish navigators, the slenderness of its branches and the delicate brightness of its starry flowers were universally admired: to preserve so elegant a plant, it was thought necessary to place it in the hothouse, which seemed to suit it perfectly well. The orangery was then tried, and there it grew surprisingly. It was then risked in the open air, and now, without needing any sort of care, it withstands the utmost severity of winter.
In all situations, the amiable Jasmine suffers its supple branches to be trained into any form that the gardener chooses to give them: most commonly forming a living tapestry for our arbours or the walls of our houses or gardens, and every where throwing out a profusion of delicate and charming flowers, which perfume the air, offering to the light butterfly cups worthy of him, and to the busy bee abundance of fragrant honey.
The rustic lover unites the Jasmine with the Rose to adorn the bosom of his beloved ; and often does a wreath of this simple combination encircle the brow of the princess.
And brides, as delicate and fair
Hath Yemen in her blissful clime;
Before their mirrors count the time,
MOORE. From the numberless poetical tributes that have been paid to this plant, we cull the following lines:
My slight and slender Jasmine-tree,
That bloomest on my border tower,
Than all the wealth of fairy bower.
Arabia's spice or Syria's rose;
My mild and winsome Jasmine-tree,
That climbest up the dark grey wall,
A variety of the Jasmine, with large double flowers and exquisite scent, was first procured in 1699 from Goa, by the grand-duke of Tuscany, and, so jealous was he of being the sole possessor of this species, that he strictly forbade his gardener to give a cutting of it to any person whatever. The gardener would probably have obeyed this injunction had he not been in love; but, on the birthday of his mistress, he presented her with a nosegay, in which he had placed a sprig of this rare species of Jasmine. Delighted with the fragrance of its flowers, the girl planted the sprig in fresh mould; it continued green all the year, and next summer shot forth anew and blossomed. Instructed by her lover, she soon began to raise cuttings from this plant and to sell them at a high price; by this means she amassed a little fund, which enabled her to marry the gardener, who was as poor as herself before this lucky accident. It is said that, in memory of this event, the damsels of Tuscany still wear a wreath of Jasmine on their wedding-day, and that it has given rise to this saying, that “ girl worthy of wearing the Jasmine-wreath is rich enough to make a husband happy.”