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MADAME de Stael was always angry whenever any of her acquaintance attempted to introduce a stupid person into her company. One day, one of her friends ventured, nevertheless, to bring to her a young Swiss officer of the most prepossessing exterior. The lady, pleased with his appearance, was very lively, and said a thousand flattering things to the new-comer, who seemed at first to be struck mute by surprise and admiration. When, however, he had listened to her for above an hour without opening his lips, she began to suspect the cause of his silence, and put to him such direct questions that he could not help answering. Alas, for the visiter ! his answers were extremely silly! Madame de Stael, vexed at having thrown away her time and her wit, turned to her friend and said: “Indeed, sir, you are like my gardener, who ght to do me a pleasure by bringing
me this morning a pot of Geranium: but I can tell you that I made him take back the flower; desiring him not to let me see it any more.” “And why so ?” asked the young map in astonishment. It was, since you wish to know, because the Geranium is a beautiful scarlet flower ; while
look at it, it pleases the eye ; but, when you press it ever so slightly, it gives out a disagreeable smell.” With these words, Madame de Stael rose and went out of the room, leaving, you may be sure, the cheeks of the young fool as red as his coat or the flower to which he had just been likened.
Among the cultivated varieties of the Geranium there are, however, some which have a very agreeable scent, and whose flowers exhibit many diversities of colour. It is also found in a wild state under the names of Crane's Bill and Herb Robert. The following poetic tribute has been paid to it by the latter appella
I will not sing the mossy rose,
The jasmine sweet, or lily fair,
Full many a bard has sung their praise
In metre smooth, and polished line ; A simple flower and humbler lays
May best befit a pen like mine. There is a small but lovely flower,
With crimson star and calyx brown, On pathway side, beneath the bower,
By Nature's hand profusely strowu. Inquire you when this flow'ret springs ?
When Nature wakes to mirth and love, When all her fragrance summer flings, When latest autumn chills the
Like the sweet bird whose name it bears,
'Midst falling leaves and fading flowers, The passing traveller it cheers,
In shorten’d days and darksome hours. And, should you ask me where it blows,
I answer, on the mountains bare,
In lonely glens or meadows fair.
Where winding Aire pursues its course; It smiles upon the craggy fells
That rise around its lofty source. There are its rosy petals shown,
'Midst curious forms and mosses rare, Imbedded in the dark grey stone,
When not another flower is there.
Oh! emblem of that stedfast mind,
Which, through the varying scenes of life,
Holds on its way 'midst noise and strife.
Though dark the impending tempest lour,
The path of duty it espies,
Thankful when brighter hours arise.
In thy sweet form this lesson plain,
Herb Robert would not bloom in vain.
At Rome, the leaf of the Geranium is employed in a favourite game or amusement, which is called Far il Verde.. The time chosen for it is the beginning of spring, when the trees and the fields put on their new liveries. A gentleman and lady then agree upon a Verde, and determine the duration of the game and the forfeits to be paid. Both parties have now to take care that they are constantly provided, both at home and abroad, with a fresh Geranium leaf. On meeting one another, the question is, Avede il Verde? succeeded by the challenge, Fatte vadere il Verde, or Fatte il Verde.
so addressed must immediately show
the Geranium leaf, and, as a sign that it is fresh, rub it against a wall or any thing upon which it can leave a mark. If it fails to make a green spot, or if the party has left it at home, he must either pay the specified penalty or pledge himself to do so. Thus, too, this engagement gives each a right to enter without ceremony the apartment of the other, to rub his green leaf against the wall, and to put his playmate to the same test. The game generally lasts for some weeks, and is more common among the higher classes than the lower. It presupposes an intimate acquaintance between the parties, or is designed to produce one. An engagement of this kind, therefore, cannot well be concluded with an unmarried lady without the consent of her parents, and, as it is often a prelude to marriage, it is not decorous for a single lady to offer the challenge. The penalties are determined by the more or less intimate footing upon which the parties stand; in some cases they are kisses, in others sweetmeats or sonnets. Sometimes, the person who has most pledges to redeem gives, at the conclusion of the game, a ball or supper. The progress of