The violet is a common indigenous plant, which grows not only m most parts of England, but in every other country in Europe; and travellers assert that it is also found in many parts of the East. It is a universal favourite: and well does it deserve to be so; for, while it seems to hide its head in lowly modesty, it scents the whole atmosphere with a soft, delicious fragrance, which is equalled, it may be, but certainly not surpassed, by the rose. Shakspeare says of it, that ¥
" To throw perfume on the violet were wasteful."
Milton has selected it as one of the favoured flowers with which he strews the bower of Adam and Eve in paradise. But the most beautiful allusion to it is made by Shakspeare in his " Twelfth Night :'*-
"That strain again; it had a dying fall:
Oil! it came o'er my ear like the sweet south, That breathes upon a bed of violets, Stealing and giving odour."
Sir "Walter Scott says,—
"The violet in her greenwood bower.
Where birchen boughs with hazels mingle, May boast itself the fairest flower In glen, or copse, or forest dingle."
The violet has been considered an emblem of constancy, owing probably to the blue colour of its blossoms,—blue being esteemed an unchanging colour. There is also a white variety of the violet, and the two are frequently found growing together. Lord Bacon asserts that white violets are more inodorous than coloured flowers of the same kind, and he seems to think the White a degenerate plant of the coloured species. This, however, is doubtful, as they are often found growing in equal luxuriance on the same soil.
Without doubt violets owe their popularity to their delicious odour; yet, strange to say, this very quality has somewhat hurt their reputation. It is said that dangerous symptoms have occurred in persons with weak nerves, by their merely remaining in a room phere these flowers have been placed! Other flowers, however, are known, to produce the same effect We have heard of a lady who fainted if she sat for a few minutes in a room scented with whitethorn blossom; so that it is probable the evil lies in the persons thus affected rather than in the sweet violet.