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ANONIS was killed, while hunting, by a boar. Venus, who, for his sake, had relinquished the joys of Cythera, shed tears for the fate of her favourite. They were not lost; the earth received them, and immediately produced a light, delicate plant, covered with flowers resembling drops of blood. Bright and transient flowers, too faithful emblems of the pleasures of life, ye were consecrated by Beauty herself to painful recollections !
That this flower owes its name to the favourite of Venus is not to be disputed; but, whether the goddess of beauty changed her lover into this plant or the anemone it would be difficult to decide, since the Linnean system of dividing plants into families did not exist when the gods and goddesses made love upon earth: and, before the time of the Swedish botanist, the Adonis was classed among the anemones, which it greatly resembles.
The Lily's height bespake command —
A fair, imperial flower;
The sceptre of her power.
The beauty and delicacy of the Lily have been celebrated by the writers of all ages. So highly was it esteemed by the Jews that they imitated its form in the decorations of their first magnificent temple; and Christ himself described it as being more splendid than the great King Solomon in his most gorgeous apparel.
Observe the rising Lily's snowy grace,
THOMSON. According to the heathen mythology, there was originally only one species of Lily, namely, the or
ured; and the white was produced by the following circumstance. Jupiter, being desirous to render Hercules immortal, prevailed on Juno to take a deep draught of nectar; which, having been prepared by Somnus, threw the queen of the gods into a profound slumber. Jupiter took advantage of this to place the infant Hercules to her breast, that the divine milk might ensure his immortality. The infant, in his eagerness, drew the milk faster than he could swallow it, and some drops fell to the earth, from which immediately sprang the White Lily.
The ladies on the continent have long held in the highest esteem a cosmetic prepared from the flowers of the White Lily by means of a vapour-bath. It is said to preserve and improve the freshness of the complexion, and to remove pimples and freckles.
This flower, which is now become the pride of every British parterre, has been made the emblem of lasting beauty; for, though it is less graceful than the rose, and not so superb as the lily, its splendour is more durable and its fragrance of longer continuance. It was one of the earliest inmates of our garden that was cultivated by the dames of baronial castles, whence it was formerly called castle gilloflower and dames' violet; for the name of violet was given to many flowers which had either a purple tint or an agreeable smell. The name of gillyflower was also common to other plants, as the wall-gillyflower (wallflower) and the clovegillyflower, a species of pink or carnation.
Few flowering plants have been so much and so rapidly improved by cultivation as the Stock. Within the last two centuries, its nature has been so completely changed by the art of the florist, that what was, in Queen Elizabeth's time, but one degree removed from a small mountain or sea-side flower, is now become almost a shrub in size, whose branches are covered with blossoms little inferior in dimension to the rose, and so thickly set as to form a mass of beauty not surpassed by any of the exotics which the other quarters of the globe have poured into our gardens. Phillips mentions a Stock grown at Notting Hill, near Bayswater, which measured eleven feet nine inches in circumference, in May, 1822.
Stocks are produced of several colours, both double and single red, white, purple, and speckled. Of these the bright red or carmine Stock must ever remain the favourite variety. The principal branches of this fragrant family are the Ten-week Stock, so named from flowering in about ten weeks after it is sown; and the Brompton, which does not blossom till about twelve months after sowing, and was first cultivated in the neighbourhood of Brompton. Phillips gives an amusing account of the beneficial effect which the sight and name of this flower