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Myosotis palustris, and its common English name, Mouse-ear Scorpion-grass.
It is not surprising that the Forget-me-not should have become favourite with our own poets as well as those of Germany. In Göthe's “Lay of the Imprisoned Knight,” translated by Lord Francis Leveson Gower, are these stanzas:
Not on the mountain's shelving side,
Nor in the cultivated ground,
The flower I seek is found.
Has fix'd its envious lot,
It says Forget me not.
The fairest of the fair,
Or bind her floating hair. It has been figured as a device on the seals of lovers, who have sung its praises in their verses:
To flourish in my favourite bower,
To blossom round my cot,
They call Forget-me-not.
It springs where Avon gently flows
In wild simplicity,
Sacred to love and thee.
Of soft cerulean blue,
It had received its hue.
Though distant be our lot,
Sweet maid, Forget me not !
The Myosotis palustris is no where found in greater perfection and abundance than on the bank of a stream near Luxemburg, which springs from the foot of an oak, that appears as old as the world, and, forming a number of little cascades, descends into an extensive plain. It is only the bank most exposed to the south that is thickly bordered by the Forget-me-not, and the plants hanging down seem to delight in looking at themselves in the crystal mirror of the stream, which is called The Fairies' Bath, or the Cascade of the Enchanted Oak. To this favourite spot the young females often descend from the ramparts of the city, on holidays, to dance near the brook. To see them crowned with the flowers that line its bank, you would take them for Nymphs holding their revels in honour of the Naïad of the Enchanted Oak.
For some years this little flower has been cultivated in France with the greatest care, and it finds a ready sale in the markets of Paris. Phillips recommends its cultivation for the same purpose in this country, particularly to cottagers who live near towns; "as, by transplanting the trailing branches from their borders into small pots, they would find it a profitable employ to send them to market, for few people would withstand the temptation to purchase these interesting flowers, that carry in their
the tale of Forget-me-not." The same writer says he has been informed that “the decoction or the juice of this plant has the peculiar property of hardening steel; and that, if edge-tools of that metal be made red-hot, and then quenched in the juice, and this process be repeated several times, the steel will become so hard as to cut iron, and even stone, without turning the edge.”
The numerous family of radiated Howers were named Aster, from the Greek word signifying Star. Our European gardens are indebted for the China Aster to Father d'Incarville, a Jesuit missionary, who, about the year 1730, sent seeds of it to the royal garden at Paris. At first the plants produced only single flowers of one uniform colour; but, through cultivation and change of soil, double var cies were obtained, and so diversified in colour, that they form one of the principal ornaments of our parterres from July to November; and the China Aster is thence made the emblem of variety. In like manner, study is capable of multiplying without limit the graces and refinements of the uncultivated mind. Brilliant and majestic, the Aster does not pretend to rival the rose, but it succeeds her, and consoles us in autumn for her absence.
It was at first supposed that the Chinese were acquainted only with the single purple Aster that was sent to France: but they possess all the varieties which we admire, and display a taste in the arrangement of these star-formed flowers, which leaves the British forist far in the back-ground. Even our most curious amateurs have yet to learn what effect these plants are capable of producing by their gay corollas, when carefully distributed by the hand of taste.
Figure to yourself for instance a bank sloping to a piece of water, covered with these gay flowers, so arranged as to rival the richest patterns of Persian carpets, or the most curious figures that can be devised by the artist in fillagree. Imagine them reflected in the water, and you will have a faint idea of the enchanting effect produced by these brilliant stars in the gardens of China.
I once attempted this kind of decoration, of which a celebrated traveller had talked to me a great deal, but failed to produce the full effect intended, owing to the lack of that profusion of flowers, that variety of shades of the same colour, and, above all, that admirable Chinese