Who does not know the Geranium ? Who does not love and admire
"That floweret bathed in hues of light! Methinks it is the brightest gem That blazes in the gorgeous front Of Flora's matchless diadem !"
Alike in the sculptured balcony of the noble and on the lowly sill of the cottar's window, the Geranium is to be found unfolding its charms, and shedding its sweet influences around peasant and peer. Perchance it was in reference to this universality of its favours, and the spontaneous admiration which its beauty has called forth from high and low, rich and poor, that this flower has been made, in floral language, emblematic of gentility; for true gentility is not confined to rank or station, but condescends oftentimes to dwell under a lowly cottage roof. True, it may be said that there are other flowers held in equally universal esteem, which might be chosen quite as appropriately to symbolize this virtue; but, perhaps, no other flower is so frequently seen nestling on our window-sills, and, as it were, peeping in upon us in the privacy of our dwellings. Go where you will, among the thatched cottages of the country, or into the dusty dwellings of the town, you will find the Geranium carefully tended and cared for by man ; sometimes in the genial green-house, surrounded by other rare exotics, but often, also, on the ledge of a garret window ; a single, almost leafless stem in a solitary flower-pot, the pet, and, it may be, the only solace of some poverty-stricken widow, or some sickly orphan child.
Even in the grated windows of the debtor's prison it has been known to put forth its delicate bud to greet the meagre rays of sunshine that sometimes penetrated there, forming the last and dearly cherished link of connection between some feeble old man and the green fields from which he had been shut out for ever.
The Geranium, or, more properly, Pelargonium, has undergone such careful culture in this country that it can now count a greater number of royal and illustrious titles in its family than any other species of flower can boast. Nearly three hundred different species have, from time to time, been brought from the Cape of Good Hope, whence nearly all the varieties we possess have been imported. This importation commenced so early as 1701. Besides their increase in this manner, numerous additions have been made to our stock by means of hybridization.